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Advice for families on Estate Planning From Professional Wills

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Photo Courtesy of Professional Wills

We often find a way to convince ourselves that everything works out in the end, but if the past year has taught us anything, it is that life is unpredictable and we never know what is around the corner. Perhaps you have put estate planning on the backburner, or perhaps you have just never been informed about how important it is; the good news is it is not too late (or too early) to get your estate in order.

Why write a Will?
In short, a Will gives you control. With a Will you have the ability to distribute your assets to those you want and in what portion. Dying without a Will means that the Hong Kong intestacy laws kick in and your estate is distributed according to these rules – which can lead to a lot of hardship for your family in what is already a very tough time.

If you have children, a Will gives you the ability to decide at what age your children will receive their inheritance, usually clients decide their children will be ready to responsibly receive an inheritance at 25. Your appointed trustee has the power to advance money to your children before they receive their inheritance – this can help them to buy their first car or with university costs.

Do you have overseas assets?
With Hong Kong being a multicultural haven, it is likely that you have assets of some kind in another country. We strongly advise against having one Will drawn up to cover your worldwide assets as this can result in delays and additional expense during the probate process. The industry standard recommendation is to have a separate country-specific Will written to cover each jurisdiction where assets are located. It is perfectly possible to have more than one Will, but each one must be restricted to the country and type of property it is intended to cover.

Do your children have guardians?
If something happens to their parents, children need a legal guardian to look after them until they are at an age of majority (in Hong Kong this is 18). If you have not appointed guardians for your children, they could be taken in by the state and put in state-run care until the courts appoint a guardian. It may take a long time for the courts to reach a decision, again adding to your loved ones’ hardship.

If the people you would like to appoint as permanent guardians reside outside of Hong Kong, you need a legal document appointing temporary Hong Kong-based guardians to look after your children until their permanent guardians arrive. Given the current circumstances, there is no telling how long it would take for the permanent guardians to reach Hong Kong, so it is vital that you also appoint temporary guardians or your children can still be put into state-run care until the permanent guardians arrive.

At Professional Wills, we offer a service that is tailored to your needs and we go beyond our remit of simple Will writing to ensure that you walk away feeling on top of estate planning. Our company’s team of four qualified Will writers specialise in multijurisdictional Wills and have been writing them in Hong Kong and around the region for the last 14 years.

Professional Wills, 2561 9031, [email protected], www.profwills.com

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