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Below is a list of our services that we provide.

If you are a person that has any of the following, and care what happens to them, you will need a Will :-

  • Children under the age of 18
  • Real property, such as real estate, land, and buildings
  • Cash, including money in checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts, etc.
  • Intangible personal property, such as stocks, bonds, and other forms of business ownership, as well as intellectual property, royalties, patents, and copyrights, etc.
  • MPF in Hong Kong
  • Ownership of shares in a company
  • Unproductive property, such as valuable objects like cars, artwork, jewellery, and furniture, etc.

Without a Will, a court makes decisions on your behalf, among others, through a lengthy and often stressful process called Probate which would include guardianship of your minor children and distribution of your assets.

Few people plan to die soon, but if you die suddenly without a Will you will inadvertently subject your family and loved ones to unnecessary confusion and anxiety at what is already a difficult time.

Regardless of how much or how little money you have, a Will ensures that whatever personal belongings and assets you do have will go to family or the beneficiaries you designate. If you own a business, a Will can help ensure smooth legal transition of those assets.

  • If you die without a Will, there are certain rules which determine how your money, property or assets should be allocated. This may not be in the way that you intended.
  • If you have minor children, you will need to make a Will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die.
  • If you have assets in other countries, you will need separate (original) Wills for the different probate rules per country.
  • If you are in a civil partnership, many countries will not recognise this under their Intestacy Rules, and your partner will not inherit unless you have written a Will.
  • If you are in a blended family or have re-married, you will need to change your original Will or write a clear one.
  • If you have minor children, you should write a Will to determine at what age they inherit. The default age is 18 years of age.

There are also other benefits to having a Will, including tax benefits by helping to avoid Death/Estate taxes.

We would be happy to assist you in understanding the complexities of Probate and the need to write clear and concise instructions, whilst making the process easier for you.

You can write a testimonial (Will) trust and have your Executor/s place your assets into a trust when you die however, you are giving them the control of instructions and can only do this once the Grant of Probate has been given, which could take months, even years, even with a valid Will.

For complete control of your whole wealth, and to ensure immediate access is given to loved ones when needed, you should have a living (inter vivos) trust which allows you to place assets now and name beneficiaries. Should something happen to you (Settlor) the beneficiaries can instantly claim as assets have already been placed for them to access.

As the Settlor of the trust, you can also be a main beneficiary in most cases.

  • You may have minor children and hold a lot of wealth… how old should they be before they become wealthy? A trust can help you control the capital and income for beneficiaries. It can act as a pre-nuptial for your future children-in-laws by restricting access to non-blood relatives.
  • Many countries charge death or inheritance taxes and certain trusts can mitigate or remove these.
  • You may be in a blended family. A Trust can ensure that the “right people” receive at the “right time” and that mistakes are avoided for distribution.
  • Trusts are private! No-one, except who the settlor/s (person/people setting up the trust) chooses to know, would have knowledge of the trust.
  • You may require personal care when you are older or become infirmed. A Trust can ensure that costs are met and that you are financially looked after by the trustees.
  • Believe it or not but a trust can save your estate money! You would be aware of the costs of your own trust but if you leave your assets to go through probate, this could be 3% - 7% of the value of your estate.

Not everything can go into a trust (for example your bank account) so a Will is needed to gather these assets, but you can have the beneficiary to your Will to be the trust. Everything you own, when you die would then go into the trust. You have already placed instructions for the trust so no-one would mis-understand your requirements.

This process does not have to be complicated and can be set up within a short period of time.

It is horrible to imagine but should something happen to both parents, children under 18 (provided they’re not married) will need a guardian. They can be appointed by a deed of guardianship, but it’s more common to make the appointment in a will.

Ideally, guardians should be appointed in a Will and a deed, as the deed can give guardians immediate access to the children, whereas a Will usually takes more time to present to the courts. If there is no guardian appointed, one must be found through a court process, and the laws of the country you’re living in at the time will apply.

As an expat, you should consider appointing temporary guardians who also live in Hong Kong, preferably close friends or colleagues, to take care of the children until the appointed guardians arrive, which could take some time. Children will only be allowed out of the country with legal guardians, whether appointed by you in a Will and a deed, or by the courts if no appointment of guardians had been made.

The court appointment maybe a foster home in Hong Kong and if you have multiple children, they could be separated whilst permanent guardian/s are confirmed. Other countries with more space may house them in orphanages until permanent arrangements are met.

In the pre-internet day, death was a relatively simple affair. The belongings of the deceased would be sorted through, boxed up, and divided among family and friends to act as a tangible reminder of a life. A Will, often called a “Last Will and Testament”, is a legal document that allows a person to give instructions on what to do with their possessions once they pass away. It is also used so that people can declare a legal guardian for their children in the event of their death.

However, what happens to your digital assets and online presence when the inevitable happens?

Suddenly finding all the accounts and passwords for business and personal accounts becomes a real challenge.

A digital Will allows you to manage the fate of your online presence and assets in one document, without having to make arrangements with each site individually as not all sites allow you to do this. Your website names, website addresses, usernames, passwords, and any other relevant information like security questions and answers will be stored in one place ensuring your family have everything they need when the time comes.

Many people do not make plans for their digital presence or digital assets which means their loved ones will struggle to make sense of it all.

If you are a business owner and/or have shares in a company, you will need Company Protection.

A business is only as good as its people. Although you may have implemented plans to protect your buildings and equipment, it’s important you don’t forget about protecting one of your most important assets - your people.

Losing an owner, shareholder or a key person who plays a fundamental role in the operation and growth of your business could have a devastating impact on your business.

Company protection can help reduce this impact.

Key Person Protection

If you have someone in your company that holds the key to your customers, then this person is more valuable than a salary. This person is someone whose knowledge, creativity, inspiration and/or skills critical to the viability or growth of a company, and whose loss could basically cripple it.

The company should consider how this person would be replaced financially if the key person died or became incapacitated.

There are helpful guidelines that Carey Suen Will Services can help you understand.

Shareholder Protection

The old adage, “don’t put your all of your eggs in one basket” is a logically step to follow throughout life but when we put out heart and sole into our own business, sometimes we need to use all of our resources to get going.

Therefore, you should protect the basket.

If you died, or became incapacitated, there should be funds available in the company for the exchange of the shares that your spouse or loved ones would receive.

Without these funds, your loved ones have no financial value and your company has people who nothing about the business (usually) own the shares. This can also cripple a business.

If you are in a Civil Partnership, you definitely need a Will!

As at the beginning of 2019, there are only 28 countries in the world that perform and recognise same sex marriages, with a further 5 that only recognise one. The only two countries in Asia that are included in the list are Armenia and Israel.

This means if your assets are in a country that don’t acknowledge your lifetime partnership, and you don’t have a Will, anything that is in your sole name would not be distributed to your spouse.

Intestacy Laws in the country of your assets would be imposed and if your civil partnership is not recognised, your assets would be distributed according to the laws.

This could include your family home if it is in the name of your spouse. Most intestacy laws provide for the distribution of your spouse but if this relationship is not recognised, their assets would be distributed to the deceased spouse’s parents or siblings.

A Will can ensure that assets are distributed according to your wishes, not the (old) laws of the land; and save financial heartbreak for your loved one.

If you are one of the following people, you seriously need to consider cross-border planning-

  • You have a spouse from a different country
  • Your children were born in different countries
  • You have assets in different countries
  • You intend to retire in a different country

When we marry or move to another country or invest in an asset away from home, we rarely consider the overall tax status that we put ourselves in. Also, as expatriates, our lifestyle can change our children’s future path; their best friends at school may not be the same nationality, our friends are from different cultures and backgrounds and lot of us have lived in different countries throughout our career. Maybe we will go home, maybe not?

We offer Cross-Border Planning which includes mixed nationality spouses and overseas ownership of assets. Very often this area of planning comprises tax integration and/or mitigation.

All of this can complicate our estate planning:

  • Does my spouse’s nationality have an effect on my current or future tax status? Is there an agreement between the countries involved? Will we pay double taxes?
  • Where will we live? What does this do for residency taxes? Does this change our domicile and put us back into the threat of death duties? Are our heirs liable to taxes upon inheritance?
  • Where will we educate our children? Where will they go for further education? Will this be overseas? What is the cost of living? How much are the fees?
  • Where shall we retire? How will this affect our income and taxes? Can assets be mitigated against taxes? How much will I need to live off?
  • What happens to my wealth if I pass away prematurely? How will my loved ones inherit if my assets are all over the globe? Who will look after my wealth for my children?

Organisation, provision and preparation for events that may occur in the future will give you more choices and provide you with peace of mind in what you are trying to achieve.

If you hold a British passport, you need to read this!

Anyone that is UK Domicile at the time that they die will have their global assets valued for Inheritance Tax (IHT) to be paid to the UK.

This is 40% (on all assets) above the nil rate band of GBP325,000. If you are married to another UK Domicile then your assets pass to each other tax free but your children would then get a bill of 40% above your joint estate value of GBP650,000. If your spouse is not UK Domicile then he or she would get a tax bill of 40% above GBP650,000.

There is further allowance for UK property ownership.

Although you, as a UK Citizen, have lived outside of the UK for a “long time” you need to have established a Domicile of Choice elsewhere to relinquish your UK Domicile.

If you have “lived outside the UK” for any number of years and not established a permanent home elsewhere you are still UK Domicile!

A home established elsewhere is typically qualified by (but not solely) buying a property, having a job, sending your children to school, having a social environment - friends and clubs, removing UK assets (keeping property only for investment in the UK,) creating bank accounts with the intention to remain in your Domicile of Choice.

If you intend to retire elsewhere, whether back in UK or another country, when you leave your Domicile of Choice, you will default back into the UK Domicile status.

The UK Government raised over GBP5.2 billion in death taxes for the year 2017-2018 so they are serious about collecting this tax, which is also avoidable if planned for properly.

Many Brits do not even know that they fall into the trap of having to pay IHT on their global assets as the rules are confusing and totally personalised to your own situation.

Your loved ones would have to report your assets and your life history, which would be difficult for you to even report as we tend not to keep notes on our activities. This could take a long time and cause huge financial stress.

Inheritance Tax is the most avoidable as you can plan to ensure that your loved ones pay the minimum or none at all.

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We’re here to help and answer any question you might have. We look forward to hearing from you.