International Inheritance Laws

Korea, South

South Korea is located in Asia. Their laws of making a will is different from the ones in the United States. Although it is not common to write a will in all of Korea, it is considered invalid unless it is written the precise way the law states. One has to be as young as 16 or 18 years old to make a will in South Korea using one of the five methods according to the South Korean laws. The five different types of laws that South Korea accepts are:

  1. Holographic wills.
  2. Recording wills
  3. Authentic wills.
  4. Secret wills.
  5. Dictation wills


These wills must contain everything that is required or it will be deemed as invalid. According to one of my sources this is what each will should contain:

“Holographic wills must be entirely hand-written by the testator, including the date of writing, address, and signature. The testator must put their fingerprint or seal on the document.

For a recording will the testator must record their testament, name, and the date. At least one witness, present during the testament, must record the exactness of the will and their name.

An authentic will must involve two witnesses and the main points must be spoken in the presence of a notary public. The testator dictates the will, and the notary public writes it out. After the testator and witnesses accept the exactness of the will, they sign it respectively. The will is kept by the notary public. An authentic will is generally considered the most legally secure type of will.

Secret will is, if the testator wants the content of the will to be kept secret, a secret will can be made. After the testator writes a will with their name, it is sealed in order to keep it secret. The testator declares the sealed document to be their will in the presence of two witnesses and the testator and witnesses sign on the sealed envelope with the date. The secret will must be submitted to either a notary public or a clerk of a family court, in order to get an officially stamped date on the document, within five days from the date written on the envelope.

A dictation will is allowed only in emergency circumstances. In order to make a dictation will, it must be impossible for the testator to make an alternative type of will because of illness or imminent death. The testator must orally declare his will to one of two witnesses present, and the person to whom the oral declaration is made must write it down and read it. Then the testator and each witness, after having acknowledged the writing to be due and correct, must sign and seal the will. The will must be submitted by the witness to the family court for inspection and approval within seven days of the end of these emergency circumstances.”


It is not stated that testators must hire an attorney to make a will in South Korea. These laws differ from the laws in New York State by several ways. New York laws do not require wills to contain some of the things the ones from South Korea require. New York State does not accept wills that are verbally stated unless it is in the Mariners will category. The intestacy laws from South Korea, it is stated that “When a person dies intestate, the estate is distributed based on the statutory distribution order and legally entitled intestate shares set out in the South Korean Civil Law. Under the intestacy rule, both children and spouse are granted a priority but the spouse’s shares are increased by 50%”. Where as in New York, it is the first $50,000 and 1/3rd.

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