Estate Planning in Hong Kong

Estate Planning in Hong Kong

Estate Planning in Hong Kong

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:05

By Alfred Ip, Partner, Notary Public and CEDR Accredited Mediator

Most people associate words like "Will" and "Estate Planning" with mortality - a subject of taboo- especially in the Chinese community. However, estate-planning is essential for those who want to take control of their own wealth beyond their lifetimes, and minimize the agony of those who care for them.

While it is not everyone who has the wealth of Nina Wang, it is believably everyone's wish to avoid the legal saga that she left behind.

It is a common misconception that "estate planning" is equivalent to "estate duty planning", and, with the abolition of estate duty in 2006, estate planning becomes nothing more than a sales-pitch by lawyers, insurance agents and financial planners. In fact, avoidance of estate duty was only one of the numerous objectives that a successful estate plan could achieve, such as:

  1. planning and directing on post-mortem matters;
  2. collecting and preserving your wealth over generations;
  3. ensuring your minor children will be looked after by your entrusted friends or relatives
  4. maximizing the benefits of your loved one from your wealth, without compromising his/her other entitlements such as government subsidies;
  5. benefiting the charities of causes you endorse; and
  6. protecting your family from opportunists.

The list is almost endless.

Control Over your Estate

Your will empowers you to decide exactly who can inherit which assets you have, from your most cherished piece of jewellery you inherited from your mother, to your pets, saving your family members from deciding on the distribution for you, which more often ends up in disagreement.

Without such direction, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Estate Ordinance (Cap. 73), which may not be the way that you want your assets to be divided.

Most people want to keep their wealth within the family

Providing for your Minor Children

A contingency plan is important for those who are still parenting minor children.

Legal guardians can be appointed to care of your children in the event of the death of yourself and your spouse. Without such a direction, your children's care and control may be decided by the authorities, which inevitably creates uncertainty and distress to your family members and your children. This is particularly important when your relationship with your partner is not recognized by the law, such as cohabitants and same sex partners.

If your children require special care, such as ongoing medical or caring needs, it is advisable to appoint financial guardians to make sure that your wealth will be properly managed to maintain such caring needs.

Supporting Good Causes

There may be a particular cause or charity which you support, If so, you can include any legacy in your will to benefit a particular organisation that supports such a cause or charity.

Overseas Assets

It is common these days for for families have a multi-jurisdictional assets portfolio, and the administration of the same becomes less straight forward. A lot of unforeseen issues may arise in administering assets overseas, such as applications for probate and tax planning.

In such circumstances, setting up a trust may be more effective in dealing with those issues.

What OLN can do for you?

With extensive experience and a global network of lawyers, accountants and other professionals, OLN addresses clients' estate planning needs in multiple ways, from writing a simple will to setting up a family trust.

Please contact us to discuss how we can achieve your goal and satisfy your needs.

This article is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and readers should not regard this article as a substitute for detailed advice in individual instances.

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