Inheritance exempted

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 September, 1993, 12:00am

ON September 21 your newspaper carried a story concerning the anger of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood at the failure of the Housing Authority to exempt Home Ownership flats from Part Two of the New Territories Ordinance 1910.

This failure means that all non-exempted land is subject to male-only inheritance according to Chinese customary law. In other words, women in Home Ownership Scheme flats are not allowed to inherit the property or pass it on to another female relative.

Your article suggested that this was only the case if the owner of the property had failed to make a will specifying that the property be left to a female. I believe this is incorrect.

As I understand it, the situation is that although any person in the New Territories may make a will, Section 75 of the Probate and Administration Ordinance 1971 specifically exempts wills relating to the Part Two New Territories Ordinance from being probated.

In other words, a will can be written but it cannot be probated (ie made effective). I and my colleagues from the Hong Kong Council of Women pointed this situation out to the Government in 1991 and have since been campaigning to have the laws changed sothat all New Territories women could enjoy equal rights of inheritance.

As things stand, it would be a great mistake for anyone with land or an interest in land or property in the New Territories to assume that making a will makes everything all right. It doesn't.

CAROL A. G. JONES Pokfulam