Probate meaning

Probate Meaning and What We Need to Know About It

A person will usually leave a will for their family long before they die. But if there is a special event such as someone dies without a will, then in Hong Kong the estate will be divided and managed in accordance with existing laws. Before we learn about how it is distributed when someone dies and whether there is a valid will or not, we need to know about the meaning of probate, the Probate Registry, and several cases regarding probate. Hope this article will help you regarding probate when learning more about wills in Hong Kong.

What is probate meaning?

Probate is a court order that authorizes one or more people to manage the deceased's inheritance in accordance with the instructions in the Will. This person is called the executor. The inheritance in question can be money in bank accounts, company shares, house, real estate, cars, and other assets left under the deceased's name.

Probate is a general term for legally processing the rights in an estate. Probate is needed to handle the assets of someone who has died, especially for relatives who are not left with a will.

Why was the Probate Registry established?

Any inheritance issues will be regulated by the Probate Registry, and the Probate and Administration Ordinance (Cap.10) delegates the authority to issue Grants to the High Court. The Registrar of the High Court is required to exercise these powers and process all applications that do not give rise to disputes. The Probate Registry has been established as an integral part of the Judiciary to assist it in carrying out its duties.

What does the Probate Registry do?

The Probate Registry assists the Registrar in processing applications and submitting requisitions to ensure that Grants will be awarded to the correct person according to the law. This also assists him in carrying out other functions according to law including carrying out the functions of Official Administrator.

Probate meaning

Everyone who wants to take care of a will left by one of their family members must understand the probate meaning and get probate, because for simple and straightforward cases it takes a long time, around 5 to 7 weeks on average. If the nature of the estate is complicated, the time required will be longer.

Issues that need to be considered with or without a will

When a person dies, there may be an estate left under the deceased's name. A Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry of the High Court must be in place to administer the deceased's assets, whether the deceased has made a will or not. A Grant of Representation acts as proof that someone has the right to deal with the deceased's estate.

There is always the question of which jurisdiction (the laws of which country) should regulate the administration and succession of the inheritance if there are foreign elements involved. For example, the deceased person was not a resident of Hong Kong, but left property in Hong Kong, or the deceased Hong Kong person may have owned property abroad. In general, the following rules might provide a reference answer:

  • Succession to "immovable assets" (buildings, flats, land) is regulated by the law of the place where the assets are located. For example, if a Hong Kong resident owns a flat in the UK, the flat will usually be governed by UK succession laws after your death.
  • The succession of “movable property” (personal effects, money, company shares) is regulated by the law of the place of domicile of the deceased person on the date of death. For example, the movable property of a deceased person who was a resident of the UK is usually governed by English succession law, wherever the property is located.

The differences between estate with a will and without a will

A Grant of Representation is the collective term for a Grant of Letters of Administration or a Grant of Probate. Probate meaning will be influential here, because a Grant of Probate is a Grant given to the executor (male) or executrix (female) named in the last Will of the deceased person.

If there is no executor/executrix written in the Will, or there is no Will, someone who wants to administer the deceased's estate must obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration. This Grant is given to administrators who include the next-of-kin (the deceased's spouse, children, parent, uncle, siblings, etc.).

Probate - Six Simple Steps in Handling and Distributing the Estate of a Deceased Person

A Personal Representative is an executor/executrix or an administrator. The Personal Representative has the authority to deal with the estate, such as arranging the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.

With a will

It needs to be clear for all the assets inherited from someone who has died, that the assets that will be managed or distributed must settle all debts, administration expenses, and other beneficiaries first. If the deceased person has written down who the executor/executrix is, then that is the only person who is entitled to apply for a Grant of Probate.

What if the executor/executrix does not want to take up the appointment or there is no executor appointed by the deceased survivors? The person entitled to the residual legacy in the Will can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Once all conditions are met, the person is entitled to the remainder of the deceased's estate.

Without a will

If no Will is found or the Will has been revoked, the law of intestacy will determine who is the rightful person who can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. There is an order of priority regulated in rule 21 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules (Cap. 10A of the Laws of Hong Kong):

  • surviving husband/wife or surviving partner or union of concubinage (second and subsequent wives taken during the lifetime of the first wife) entered into before 7 October 1971
  • Direct descendants of the deceased or any children born of a union of concubinage during the life of the first wife entered into before 7 October 1971, or descendants of the child who died during the deceased person's lifetime
  • The parent(s) of the deceased
  • Siblings of the deceased or descendants of the deceased's brothers or sisters who died during the deceased's lifetime.

The High Court also has the authority to appoint someone who is not included in the hierarchy to manage the inheritance. This power is useful if the closest relative of the deceased, who should have the right to be appointed as administrator, is under 21 years of age or does not have sufficient mental or physical capacity to manage the estate.


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