Probate ordinance in Hong Kong

All About Probate Ordinance in Hong Kong

Navigating the probate ordinance in Hong Kong is essential for anyone managing estate assets. To deal with estate property, one must obtain a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration, ensuring compliance with legal requirements. This guide provides detailed steps and requirements for securing these grants, ensuring a smooth process for asset management and inheritance.

Every person who has a lot of assets in Hong Kong will certainly want to pass on their ownership to the family he or she names in the will. As long as there is a valid will, there will be a beneficiary in someone's assets and this can be taken care of after the maker of the will dies. In order to deal with any estate property in Hong Kong, the person must obtain a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letter of Administration. All of this is regulated in the probate ordinance, and you must know every detail about this.

Overview about probate ordinance in Hong Kong

Probate is a general term for applications for legal rights in dealing with an estate. Probate is used when someone will handle the deceased's estate. In Hong Kong, upon a person's death, a person's name in a will must petition the High Court for a Grant of Probate (if there is a valid will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no will).

What Happens in Hong Kong Inheritance Law No Will

The legal system in Hong Kong will focus on the domicile of the deceased and where the estate is located. If a Hong Kong resident has an estate that is clearly located in Hong Kong, which can be checked in terms of property to debt, then arranging a Grant of Probate will be easier and the time required will be quicker.

How to get a Grant of Probate in Hong Kong?

A Grant of Probate is needed even if your name is already listed in the will. This is regulated in the probate ordinance, and the Hong Kong Court will require this application before you can deal with any estate property in Hong Kong. Before you understand the procedures for getting a Grant of Probate, we will answer some frequently asked questions about this.

What is a Grant?

A Grant is essentially a court order that authorizes another person to handle a deceased person's assets. The section 60J of Probate and Administration Ordinance, Cap. 10 : It is an offense if a person, without reasonable excuse or lawful authority, administers any part of a deceased person's assets that is not included in the list of assets attached to a Grant made to an estate. Grant of Probate and Grant of Letters of Administration are the most common grants, but there are other grants that are issued in special circumstances.

Who should apply a Grant?

If someone dies and has a valid will, the person named in the Will, will act as executor. That person should make the application, otherwise the deceased's next of kin can apply. There is a priority for who can apply for a grant under r21 Non-Contentious Probate Rules: starting with spouse, children, parents, and siblings. The important meaning of priority is that it comes first according to the order, and the lower order cannot apply for a grant until the person who has the right does not want to take care of it or the rights are cleared off.

How to apply for a Grant?

You will need to go to the Probate Registry of the High Court to arrange a Grant. The applicant must prepare documents to support the application, such as applicant's affidavits, all assets that are in the name of the deceased, the original valid will of the deceased, public documents to show relationship with the deceased, death certificate, or all supporting documents that certified and copies issued by the relevant authorities such as marriage registry or birth and death registry. The High Court has the right to determine whether the required documents are complete or not, and you will be informed if any documents are required, such as documents from foreign governments that need to be properly authenticated.

How long to get a Grant of Probate application?

If the case is straightforward and not complex at all, the Grant of Probate application can be issued within a couple of weeks, otherwise it might take more than 2 months. The court has an inquisitorial role in the application and as a consequence may impose requirements when the application is processed.

How do beneficiaries receive their money?

After the Grant of Probate application is received by the High Court, the High Court will record what assets the deceased person owned. All debts of the deceased's person must be paid, and the estate's remaining assets minus any probate feeds will be distributed to beneficiaries according to the will.

If a person dies without a will, inheritance issues according to the Probate Registry, according to who the surviving relatives of the deceased are.

  • If you leave behind only your spouse

According to section 4(2) and section 5 of Intestates' Estate Ordinance (Cap. 73), the spouse without descendants, no parents, and no surviving siblings, the assets will be given to your spouse after deducting your funeral, debts, tax, legal and other expenses.

  • If you leave behind only your descendants

According to section 4(5) of the Intestates' Estate Ordinance (Cap. 73), if there is no surviving spouse and leave behind some descendant(s), no matter if you still have parents or siblings, all your assets will be divided equally your child(ren) equally, and your grandchild(ren) did not receive any of it. But if your child(ren) dies young before you do and has descendants, then their child(ren) will take up the share of your deceased child(ren) equally.

  • If you leave behind a spouse and descendants

According to section 4(3) of the Intestates' Estate Ordinance (Cap. 73), the spouse will get all of your personal items such as clothing, accessories, vehicles, furniture, plus a sum of HKD500,000 out of the remaining assets. If there are still assets remaining, then it will be divided into two halves. One half for the spouse, and the other half for the child(ren) equally.

The importance of a will for your family

Making a Will, will make it easier for your family to handle probate. Once you and your family understand the probate ordinance, you can tell your family how to process valid wills and what documents to prepare. Because without a will, the succession process will be more complicated and take a long time before they can have the right to manage the assets you left behind.

SMEBrother is the right place to ask questions about wills, starting from helping you in making a will, acting as a witness when you sign a will, or as your advisor on how to manage the will until it is valid. SMEBro will help with everything regarding this, even if you have some complicated issues, such as when you leave assets outside Hong Kong, or when your spouse or child is outside Hong Kong and wants to take care of their asset rights.

Services include:

Estate Survey and Assessment: A comprehensive survey and assessment of the estate will be conducted to ensure that all assets and liabilities are clear.

Legal process guidance: A professional legal team will assist you in completing various legal procedures required for cross-border inheritance distribution to ensure that everything is legal and compliant.

Careful follow-up throughout the entire process: We have professional teams from Hong Kong and Mainland China who are familiar with inheritance matters and can help you break cross-border barriers and successfully inherit your inheritance.