What to do when a family member passes away #1: Legal Requirements

What to do when a family member passes away #1: Legal Requirements

by Hiak Jin Hean | January 29, 2019

As humans, our days are numbered and the precious time we have with our loved ones are limited. This is sad but however true and affects us all. At some point in our lives we will be faced with the loss of someone dear to our hearts. During this time of mourning, we will all understandably be filled with inconsolable grief and anguish. Be that as it may, there are some legal requirements that has to be met in the unfortunate event of losing someone we love.

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In this article, we will discuss and go over a brief guide of the general legal matters in Hong Kong, that a family experiencing a loss will have to attend to.


An United States Court House in New York City.

Legal Requirements


Firstly, a death has to be reported/registered within 24 hours, with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. In the event of a death, the registered medical practitioner of whom which last attended to the deceased will issue a signed Form 18, more commonly known as a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death. 


Under the Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance, it shall be the duty for the informant (being the nearest relative or other relevant person of the deceased) to register a death from natural causes within 24 hours.


The loved one who has been issued the form will then haven to take the form to the Registry of Deaths in order to officially register the death. Typically, if the deceased passes away in a hospital, the hospital authorities will take it upon themselves to do the paperwork.


Apart from registering the death, if there is a will left behind by the deceased, it should be examined if there are any specific wishes the deceased may have in relation to the type of funeral procession they may want.  The will may or may not appoint one or more executors to be responsible for carrying out the last requests of the deceased. In those cases, an experienced probate expert – generally someone with a paralegal or accounting background – can handle the vast majority of probate issues, and often the entire process of searching for assets in the name of the deceased to be settled.


This is a general overview of the legal matters that will have to be attended to. Nobody wants to find themselves in such a situation. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that at some point in our lives, we will have to be there for a lost loved one. During such a dark time, we may feel lost and all alone, therefore we must keep a clear head and attend to the important matters such as the legal steps to take and also the arrangement of the funeral.


 How to manage a death in the family.


Arranging a funeral can be confusing and tough, therefore in the continuation of this series “What to do when a family member passes away?”, we will discuss the steps to put in place, in order to arrange a funeral to respectfully commemorate a loved one that has been lost. Do subscribe to our blogs to keep yourself updated and informed of our future posts.

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For a more in-depth read on the legal issues regarding the death of a loved one.


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Hiak Jin Hean


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