1998 / 10月
Laura Li /tr. by Jonathan Barnard
A) Write your own will
Wills are most often written by the will holders themselves. In Taiwan the first line reads "Final Will and Testament" and the second line reads, "This is the will of . . . ." From start to finish the entire will must be hand-written. Computer-printed wills are not valid.
What's more, your name must match the name given on your identification card. Avoid nicknames and such phrasings as, "Daddy writes. . . ." Don't forget to sign your name at the end of the will.
For wills involving custody rights and money, you should append a footnote, explaining where changes have been made so that people can not tamper with the will. Write your signature next to each change.
B) Write the year, month and day clearly
Because your will only goes into effect after you die, you can change it at any time as long as you are still mentally "competent." Determination of the legal validity of competing wills follows the principle that a later will takes precedence over an earlier one. And "later" and "earlier" are determined by the dates written on each will.
You must be careful about this: Some people give different versions of a will to different people, and others are constantly changing their minds and thus leave many different wills. If you forget to write the date on your will, then it will result in people not knowing whether it is the final version.
C) If it's illegal, it's invalid
Is it possible to write a will to dispose of your estate however your heart desires? According to the law, no.
Lawyer Lin Mei-ching points out that a testator can only dispose of half of his property entirely according to his discretion. The other half must be divided in accordance with the articles of the civil law governing inheritance. This is so unfavored sons and daughters won't lose all their rights to a parent's estate.
What's more, according to civil law, gender or sibling order have no bearing on how an estate is divided. In common practice, the bulk of an estate often goes to the oldest son, or pressure is put on married daughters to renounce their rights to their parents' estates. Yet such practices are illegal, and passages of a will that call for them will not have legal validity.
D) Advanced will writing
When creating a will, you don't need a witness. Yet if you fear that the authenticity of your will may be called into question, then you might want to ask a "disinterested party" who is a close friend to serve as a witness.
In certain cases where the property situation is extremely complex, or when inheritors disagree among themselves, it may sometimes be impossible to collect inheritance tax. The estate will then be temporarily put under the custody of the court, which may even prohibit beneficiaries from leaving the country. When the will appoints someone as its executor, the responsibility of ensuring that the inheritance tax is paid falls on his or her shoulders. From the standpoint of protecting the inheritors of an estate, it is important to select an executor who has professional understanding of probate law. People who don't understand the law and tax matters should avoid at all costs being appointed an executor of someone else's will.
Because the relevant laws are difficult to get a handle on, if your situation is complicated, why not first ask a lawyer for advice about your will before you sign it, so that things will proceed as you intended?