Henry Chung, Partner: Litigation and Contracts Tel and WhatsApp 641 99999 

FAQ on wills and legal requirements on making a will

What is a will?

A will is a legal document you use to leave property to close family members, friends, or charities. In your will, you name beneficiaries to inherit your property, an executor to wrap up your estate, and guardians to care for your young children. You can set up a trust for money inherited by children. You can also forgive debts owed to you and state how you want your debts, expenses, and taxes to be paid.

What can I do with a Will?

With a Will you can:

  • Name beneficiaries (and alternate beneficiaries) to inherit your property.
  • Name a guardian to care for your young children.
  • Create a trust or a custodianship and choose an adult to manage your children's
  • State how your debts, expenses, and taxes are to be paid.
  • Name an executor to carry out the terms of your will.

How much does a Will cost?

$1000 to $3000 depending on complexity.

What information do I need to make my will?

It will be easier to make your will if you have gathered some information first:

  • a rough inventory of your property (but if you plan to leave everything to one or a few people, you can skip this)
  • a list of beneficiaries -- that is, the people who will get your property
  • a list of alternate beneficiaries -- the people who will inherit your property if your first-choice beneficiary dies before you
  • if you have young children, a list of your first and second choices for guardian
  • a list of your first and second choices for executor

How long will it take to make my will?

You could make a very basic will in just a few minutes. But a will is an important document; don't rush. Put aside an hour or two to think about your wishes and make your will.

When do I pay?

When you have decided to instruct us to prepare the will and given us your instructions on its content.

What do I do with my completed will?

We shall give the completed will to you after you have signed it and witnessed by two witnesses provided by us. Store this original document in a safe place, such as a bank safety box.

Can I make copies of my completed will?

It's fine to give a copy of your will to your executor or other loved ones for informational purposes.

Do not sign more than one copy of the will. Doing so creates more than one original document and could cause confusion after your death.

What other estate planning documents might I need?

In addition to a will, you might consider making: a living trust (whose main advantage is to avoid probate court proceedings after your death) and a power of attorney (to allow a trusted person to arrange your affairs if you can't).

Is it safe to make a will without a lawyer?

Home-made wills are common in Western countries. Because a will is a very important document, a will prepared by a lawyer will be more safe. It is cheap and convenient to prepare a will in Hong Kong.

Is a simple will enough for me?

It's always fine to make a simple will. Simplicity will create the least uncertainty. But there are some situations in which you may need more than a simple will and should get expert advice or, at the least, investigate your options. For example:

  • If you anticipate family fights, see a lawyer for advice on how to stave off bad feelings and legal battles.
  • If you want to set up a long-term trust for a child with special needs.

What is a Power of Attorney?

In the event we can no longer care for ourselves it is important to have in place a method of ensuring that those people we trust the most have the power to look out for our best interests. 

A Power of Attorney grants those people we trust the most, the power to do this.  It is the legal step that grants important powers to ensure that the care, welfare and administration of your financial and legal affairs are managed by those you most trust. 

Preparing these documents well in advance assists you and your family to prepare for your future care.  It also may avoid conflict between loved ones as you have set a clear path for your care.

Very often, a Power of Attorney is prepared for disposing a real property. This will enable you to sell the property without your physical presence. The attorney will sign the documents such as agreement and assignment for you. You must find a lawyer to prepare a Power of Attorney and handle its execution. Buyer does not accept invalid or doubtful Power of Attorney.


Terms Frequently Used in Wills

Beneficiary: Person entitled to receive assets from a testator/testatrix's estate.

Bequest: Specific item left to someone under a Will - e.g. an item of jewelry, a painting, etc.

Estate: Term used to generally describe testator/testatrix's possessions, assets and affairs on death.

Executor: Male person appointed to handle the testator/testatrix’s affairs on death. Female person appointed is called Executix.

Legacy: Amount of money left to someone under a Will. Person left an amount of money under a Will is called Legatee.

Residue: Remainder of assets once any specific bequests, legacies, expenses, etc have been paid. More often, it is called Residuary Estate.

Testator: Male person making a Will. Female person making a Will is called Testatrix.

Trustee: Another term used for the Executor holding assets in trust for a beneficiary of the Will.


What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document which records your intentions as to who receives your assets, who will manage your affairs and who will look after your children after your death.  If you do not have a Will at the time of your death, the above matters will be determined according to the laws of intestacy (i.e. having no wills). The manner of distribution under the "no-will" laws may not match your intentions.

When to Make a New Will ?

An existing will can be replaced by a new will. People make a new will because of the following possible reasons:-

  • having just got married. Marriage revokes all earlier wills. No will may be needed.
  • separation with the spouse, divorced or spouse's death.
  • having a new child.
  • having a big fortune e.g. inheritance, mark-six lottery winning.

Wills, Succession Planning and Estates

Esate Duty Abolished

Estate duty (inheritance tax or death duty) has been abolished in Hong Kong. Succession planning nowadays has become simpler. Legacies are not subject to Government tax unless a transfer of beneficial interests not within the scope of the laws of succession.

Wills are not just for senior citizens.  Wills are particularly important to parents who wish to provide their own children security. Children can be clear who will be taking their care should their parents or guardians come to an untimely death.

Some people do not have any obvious dependants. A Will can avoid the Government taking control of assets on his demise.

Simplest succession planning is by preparing a will. Our lawyers are in a position to carry out such a simple task. However, there many be some other related issues such as the dealing of assets in joint names, the freezing of assets before probate is granted. Our lawyers can provide you with up to date and timely advice on preparing your will and succession planning so that the assets are distributed according to the will.