intestate estate ordinance in Hong Kong

Things You Need to Know About Intestate Estate Ordinance in Hong Kong

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Each country has different intestacy laws to deal with the distribution of assets of people who passed away without a valid will. Two important keys in this regard are the Intestate Estate Ordinance (Cap. 73) and the Wills Ordinance (Cap. 30). Learning about these laws can help you in the crucial event that your loved one dies intestate. The goal of these laws is to ensure a fair distribution of the deceased's estate among relatives. This article will discuss how assets will be divided, and what relatives can do to manage them.

Intestate Estate Ordinance in Hong Kong

According to the Intestates' Estates Ordinance (Cap. 73) when a person dies while not executing a will in Hong Kong, then the estate of that person will be distributed and that person is called an intestate in this case.

There are many possibilities for someone not taking care of a will while they are alive, due to sudden illness, being away from relatives, new marriages, or various other personal reasons. If there are relatives who suddenly want to take care of the inheritance of someone who has died, and after checking it turns out that person has never made a will, then they must obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry.

intestate estate ordinance in Hong Kong

Those who are entitled to apply for the Grant of Letters of Administration for inherited assets are the people regulated in rule 21 of the Regulations. There are highest priorities starting from a surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Those who are able to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administrations are able to deal with the estate in accordance with the Intestates Estates Ordinance.

After arranging for the funeral of the deceased and obtaining the Grant of Letters of Administration, the administrator must settle any debts, expenses, and collate all the assets of the deceased. Now, the estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with section 4 of the IEO, and will be explained below.

Entitlement on Intestacy

  • If there is only the spouse, no children/grandchildren of the deceased, parents, full siblings or children/grandchildren of full siblings, then the entitlement arrangement is handed over to the surviving spouse.
  • If there is a spouse and children/grandchildren of the deceased and other immaterial relatives, the surviving spouse gets personal chattels and half of the residual estate and HK$500,000. The other half for statutory trust (refer to the Intestate Estate Ordinance) for the surviving children/grandchildren.
  • For the spouse and one or more of the relatives such as parent or full sibling or children/grandchildren of full sibling, the surviving spouse gets personal chattels, half of the residual estate, and HK$1,000,000. The other half for the surviving parents or on statutory trusts for the full siblings.
  • For no spouse and only children/grandchildren of the deceased, the entitlement arrangement is all for the surviving children/grandchildren on statutory trust.
  • For no spouse, no children, only parents, all rights go to parents.
  • If there are only full siblings, no spouses, children, or parents, all rights go to full siblings on statutory trusts.

The law will continue according to who the recipient is, and who the remaining family is. For half siblings, grandparents, full uncles and aunts, half uncles and aunts, it will be handed over according to the administrator on statutory trusts. Especially for someone who has no relatives at all, everything will be taken care of by the Hong Kong Government as unowned property.

Distribution of Estates (resume)

The distribution of an intestate's estate will be sorted according to priority, starting from spouse and children, then parents, full siblings, half siblings, grandparents, full uncles and aunts, half uncles and aunts, and so on.

If the remaining people in the family are a spouse and children, the spouse gets household items or personal chattels, HK$1,000,000 in cash, and part of the remaining property. The children will share the other half.

If the deceased person only has a spouse without children, the spouse gets personal chattels, HK$1,500,000 in cash, and half of the remaining estate. The remainder of the estate will be divided between the deceased's surviving parents or surviving siblings.

That order will continue to be repeated according to priority, unless there are special conditions where the person who died has no relatives at all, and the price will be managed by the Hong Kong Government as unowned property.

Do you know the procedure of inheritance in Hong Kong?

In case of inheritance, a legal personal representative must be appointed to manage the inheritance. This representative, known as an administrator, is usually the highest ranking relative according to inheritance rules. Administrators must apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration from the High Court Probate Registry before they can deal with the deceased's assets as we discussed above.


The intestate estate ordinance in Hong Kong provides a systematic approach to dividing the estate of a deceased person in the absence of a valid will. However, these laws may not reflect the deceased's personal wishes when creating their own will. Immediately make a will for your beloved family, because we can provide comfort for the family in the future, and also ensure that there is no will in your name that has been registered and could be considered fraud.

Therefore, it is always advisable to seek professional legal advice and consider making a will and how assets will be divided according to one's wishes. Making a will is complex and there is a lot to take care of. Even though we already know the intestate estate ordinance, we still don't know exactly what we need to prepare to make a valid will. Knowing this, you need SMEBrother as your one stop solution for everything regarding wills. SMEBro provides services including:

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 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.