Understanding Intestacy Laws in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, intestacy laws govern the distribution of a deceased person’s estate when they pass away without a valid will. Being familiar with these laws can provide a helpful guide in the unfortunate event that a loved one dies intestate.
Intestacy laws in Hong Kong are primarily defined under the Intestates’ Estates Ordinance (Cap 73) and the Wills Ordinance (Cap 30). The primary goal of these laws is to ensure a fair division of the deceased’s estate among surviving relatives.
Distribution of Estates
The distribution of an intestate’s estate in Hong Kong is based on a pre-determined order of priority, starting with the spouse and children, then parents, and followed by siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and so on.
If the deceased is survived by a spouse and children, the spouse is entitled to the personal chattels (household items, cars, etc.), HK$1,000,000 in cash, and half of the remaining estate. The children will share the other half.
In situations where the deceased is survived by a spouse but no children, the spouse is entitled to the personal chattels, HK$1,500,000 in cash, and half of the remaining estate. The rest of the estate then goes to the deceased’s surviving parents or, if they are not alive, to surviving siblings.
If the deceased has children but no spouse, the estate is divided equally among the children. If there are no surviving children or spouse, the estate goes to the parents, then siblings, and so on following the predetermined order.
In cases of intestacy, a legal personal representative must be appointed to administer the estate. This representative, known as an administrator, is typically the highest-ranking relative according to the intestacy rules. The administrator must apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry of the High Court before they can deal with the deceased’s assets.
The intestacy laws in Hong Kong provide a systematic approach to distributing a deceased’s estate in the absence of a valid will. However, these laws may not reflect the deceased’s personal wishes for their property. Therefore, it’s always advisable to seek professional legal advice and to consider making a will that reflects one’s personal wishes. The complexity of dealing with intestate estates further underlines the importance of having a well-drafted, legally valid will in place.