Korean Wills: Korean Estate Law Basics

Korean willsLike in most jurisdictions, the recognition of a will by a court of law requires precise formalities.  We advise that most people have a will.  For individuals with wills that shall be governed by Korean Law the formalities are noted below.  We have omitted two forms of wills – a will by audio recording and dictation. These types of wills pose issues of authentication of the decadent and we believe it is not advisable – in most cases.

  • Korean Holographic Wills
    A Holographic will is a handwritten will.  For a holographic will to be enforceable in Korea the will should meet the following formalities:

    • Written by the decadent
    • Dated
    • Signed
    • Note the decadents name and address
    • Sealed or contain a thumbprint.
    • Additional details on holographic will may be found at: Korean Holographic Wills
  •  Korean Notarized Wills
    • Will is executed before a Korean notary
    • Two witnesses should be present at the notary office
    • Notary verifies the signature and IDs of the testator and the witnesses
    • The will must be reduced to a writing.
  • Korean Private Wills
    • An envelop must be sealed and contain a will inside the sealed envelop.  It must be clear that the envelop was never opened before death.
    • The outside of the envelope must note it contains a will.
    • The outside of the envelop must contain the date of signing of the will.
    • Two witnesses should seal the outside of the will.
    • A notary must notarize the envelop.

For more details on execution of wills please see a post we write on: execution of wills in Korea. For an explanation of Korea’s inheritance Law please see: Who Gets What When & How: Inheritance Law Basics.

Sean Hayes

Known for his street-smart advice & proactive advocacy. Sean works with senior retired Korean judges and leading attorneys in contentious and transactional matters. First non-Korean lawyer (NY) to work at Korean Courts and one of the first non-Korean law professors. Rated a top lawyer in Korea by major rating agencies.

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