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Legal terms explained


The person appointed by the Court to administer an estate where there is no valid Will, or where the executor is unable, or unwilling, to act.



A person who inherits all or part of the money or property from someone who has died.


Confirmation Notice 

A document issued by the Director of Home Affairs of the Government of the HKSAR that enables the holder of the Notice to handle small estates of a deceased person, as set out in the schedule attached to the Notice. 


Certificate for Necessity of Release of Money 

A document issued by The Director of Home Affairs of the Government of the HKSAR that authorises release of money from the deceased’s bank account to meet relevant expenses. 


Death Certificate

Also referred to as 'certified copy of a death entry'. This is a legal document issued by the registrar of the Deaths Registry certifying the death of a person. 


The Estate

The total value of all assets owned by a person when they died – money, property and possessions – after any outstanding debts have been settled.



The person(s) named in a Will who is responsible for making sure the wishes of the person who died as expressed in the Will are carried out.


Grant of Letters of Administration

If a valid Will does not exist, this legal document appoints the administrator who is authorised to deal with the estate of the deceased.  


Grant of Probate

An official document confirming that the Will is valid and appointing the executor(s) responsible for dealing with the estate of the deceased.


Grant of Representation

The Grant of Probate and the Grant of Letters of Administration, are collectively referred to as the Grant of Representation, which formally appoints the Personal Representative, ie the executor(s) or administrator(s), who is responsible for dealing with the estate of the deceased. The Grant of Representation is the document proving the Personal Representative has the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.



When someone dies without having made a valid Will, such a person will be referred to as 'having died intestate'.


Letter of Undertaking 

A legal document provided by a person who undertakes to continue to make repayment to the deceased's mortgage loan even though he will not acquire any interest in the mortgaged property.   


Next of Kin

The closest related family member(s) of a person who has died. This is normally their husband, wife or their child/children.


Personal Representative

The person who is legally authorised to deal with the estate of the deceased.


Probate Registry

A division of the HKSAR Judiciary responsible for overseeing the granting of the Grants of Representation. 



A legal document by which a person sets out their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more person, ie the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution.