FAQ on making a will in Hong Kong
What is a will in Hong Kong?
A will in Hong Kong is a testamentary legal document made according to the Wills Ordinance.
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.