Seniors register wills to protect right in assets handling

Updated 2017-09-27 09:30:52 Xinhua

Wang Ming has felt at ease since he visited the Jiangsu branch of the China Will Registration Center a month ago.

"I am happy. I have nothing to worry about now," Wang, 64, said after receiving his will certificate earlier this month.

According to his will, his entire fortune will go to his wife after he passes away. When she dies, their son will receive it.

Wang's wife has also made a reservation to register her will. She has scheduled the appointment for her 60th birthday.

East China's Jiangsu Province has one of the largest senior citizen population in the country. As of 2016, seniors aged 60 or older made up 22 percent of the province's population, or about 17.2 million people, and the figure is still growing.

"You never know which will come first, an accident or tomorrow," said 61 year-old He Li. She and her husband recently registered their wills at the center, leaving all of their belongings to their son, their only child.

"We had this idea a long time ago. We drew up wills at home and told our son about them. It is convenient that we can now register with a formal institution," He said.

The Jiangsu branch opened a year ago, and more than 2,000 wills have since been registered there, according to Pang Huaxing, head of the branch.

"We have seniors coming or calling for a consultation or reservation every day. We handle about seven to eight appointments per day," Pang said.

Registering a will at the center takes several hours. An applicant must complete an on-site consultation, drafting of the will, a mental evaluation and video recording. A will certificate is issued to the applicant about one month after application.

Most of the elderly go through the process to avoid disputes over the allocation of family assets.

"They want to make the allocation clear in advance to simplify ownership transfer procedures for their offspring. Some who have remarried want to leave a portion of their wealth to their natural child," Pang explained.

The oldest applicant at the Jiangsu branch was 93 years old, while the youngest was 60. Of all applicants, 35.4 percent were 60 to 70 years old, 36.4 percent were between 70 and 80 years old, and another 28.2 percent were 80 or older.

About 82 percent of the content in the wills is about property allocation, while 18 percent specifies the allocation of savings. Spouses, children and grandchildren are most often the direct beneficiaries.

China had more than 230.8 million people aged 60 or older at the end of 2016, accounting for 16.7 percent of the total population, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The country's elderly will account for about one quarter of the population by 2030.

The will registration center opened its first branch in Beijing in 2013. Since then, more than 70,000 wills have been registered at the center's branches nationwide, and services have expanded to Guangdong, Tianjin, Jiangsu, and Guangxi.

In Beijing, the earliest available appointment to register a will is next year.

In Guangdong, which introduced the service two years ago, 300 elderly people filed applications in the first month, a number that surprised even veteran lawyers and notary office staff.

In Dongguan City, Guangdong, demand for will registration is soaring as wealthy seniors strive to protect their rights in handling assets. A Dongguan branch was established last year to respond to demand, becoming the first prefecture-level city to offer the service.

"I am in a good mood at the moment, so I want to settle things in advance to avoid disputes in the future," said 83-year old Li Ke, who came for a consultation.

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