5. How does one avoid intermeddling of the estate (handling the estate without permission) after abolition of the Estate Duty?
Before the abolition of estate duty, as the Applicant needs to obtain estate duty clearance before filing the application for a Grant with the Probate Registry, the Inland Revenue Department acted as the gate keeper to prevent possible intermeddling of the deceased's estate.
After the abolition of estate duty, provisions have been made in the laws of Hong Kong to safeguard against intermeddling of an estate. These provisions will be similar to those used in the estate duty era:
- Intermeddling of the deceased's estate is an offence;
- A person would be liable to a fine of $10,000 plus and additional penalty equal to the value of the assets intermeddled if:
that person intermeddles the estate or the income therefrom and either fails to file an application for summary administration (for cases where the value of the estate does not exceed $150,000) or fails to file an application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration within 12 months from the death of the deceased; OR that person intermeddles with the estate after the 12-month's period without a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration or summary administration.
For more information on this matter, you can go to the Home Affairs Bureau's webpage.