Court cases over wills and testaments on the rise in Shanghai

Chen Huizhi
Changning District People's Court has released a white paper in which it discussed some of the common problems in wills and testaments that could make them invalid.
Chen Huizhi

The number of court cases over wills and testaments in Shanghai have been rising in recent years, as the city's population ages, according to a white paper released by the Changning District People's Court.

People are increasingly aware of the necessity to ensure the legality of wills and testaments, but still one in five of those subject to legal disputes from 2017 to 2020 by the court were ruled to be partially or entirely invalid.

The court handled 548 such cases over the past four years, which accounted for about 60 percent of all succession cases.

Of the 608 wills and testaments involved in the cases, about 84 percent were related to real estate properties. In a good many of the cases, the disputed objects were worth more than 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million), the court said.

The court said it has handled a certain number of such cases involving parties that are foreign nationals.

In the white paper, the court also informs the public of the common problems in wills and testaments that made them invalid.

The most common problem was that the testator had no right to handle the properties mentioned in the wills and testaments.

There were also problems in formalities, the testator having limited capacity for act and violation of other valid civil agreements.

In some cases, the testators failed to include inheritors with no source of income and no labor capacity in their wills and testaments, while in others, wills and testaments which were signed by married couples were ruled to be invalid after one party in the marriage passed away.

All courts in Shanghai handled about 9,000 succession cases last year, and about 12 percent of those cases were related to wills and testament issues, according to Shanghai People's High Court.

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