Govt gets property if no beneficiaries

A claim need not be made before the Public Trustee's Office is able to look into whether a person's estate is considered "bona vacantia".

An estate will be treated as bona vacantia - which means "goods without an apparent owner" - if a person dies without leaving a will and without any surviving entitled next-of-kin.

Replying to queries, a spokesman for the Public Trustee's Office said it would normally not step in unless there is evidence that the estate is likely to be bona vacantia.

But the spokesman added: "The Public Trustee does not have any information regarding Ms Tang Yook Chan's estate at the present time, and is therefore unable to comment specifically on this case."

Lawyer Raphael Louis of Ray Louis Law Corporation, who has handled property cases, told The New Paper that it is "not common for a person to leave behind a substantial asset without a will or next-of-kin to make a claim."

Under the Intestate Succession Act, the State inherits the whole of the estate of a deceased person if they leave behind no beneficiaries, he explained.

As for the outstanding maintenance fees, corporate lawyer Robson Lee said the condominium's management has the legal right to recover it. To do this, they could hire a lawyer and turn to the Public Trustee's Office for help.


A spokesman for the Public Trustee's Office confirmed this and said: "Once a claim has been determined by the Public Trustee to be a valid moral and equitable claim, depending on the value of the claim vis-a-vis the value of the estate, it is open to the Public Trustee and the successful claimant to determine the best way to administer the bona vacantia estate.

"This could mean that the Public Trustee acting as administrator or the successful claimant being appointed administrator with the Public Trustee's consent."