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Lack of Inheritance Planning Causes Problems in China

According to a recent report by USA Today, only around 1% of senior citizens in China have written a will or conducted some other form of inheritance planning exercise, which is beginning to cause problems regarding the transfer of wealth.

The article highlights that it has only been in the last 30 years that people in communist China have been allowed to accumulate wealth to any significant degree. However, discussions about death have historically been considered taboo in Chinese culture, and planning for death is thought to bring about bad luck. Now that the first of the generations to accumulate wealth are beginning to die, the absence of wills means that disputes are developing between family members over who should inherit the estate.

The USA Today quotes figures revealing that 70% of inheritance disputes that go to court are the result of the absence of a will. Where a will does exist but is challenged in court, 60% are ruled to be invalid.

The Government has now recognised the problem and is encouraging local authorities to set up clinics where members of the public can get free legal advice about inheritance planning and assistance in writing a will. There has been a large take-up of these services where they are available.

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