Navigating Korea’s Inheritance Law: Korean Inheritance Laws Basics Explained

Sean C. Hayes and the team at IPG Legal field many inquiries from international clients for assistance with inheritance issues in South Korea. Many clients that we talk with are children of Korean descendants who have passed away without a will. For an article on Korean estate taxes, please See Korean Inheritance Taxes.

This week we saw another ruling on inheritance issues with the surviving family of K-pop star Goo Hara. After a nine-month battle, the Gwanju Family Court ruled that the inheritance be split, with the singer’s brother getting 60% of the assets and Goo’s estranged mother the remaining 40% of the inheritance.

Inheritance Law
Former Kara singer Goo Hara’s family was involved in a prolonged inheritance battle

There are provisions in inheritance law in Korea that allow the parents of the deceased to claim the inheritance in cases where there is no spouse or children involved. This ruling also applies if the parents did not raise the deceased.

Korean Interstate Succession Law (Death without a Will), order of succession is:

  1. Direct descendants (children and grandchildren);
  2. Direct ascendants (parents and grandparents);
  3. Siblings (brothers and sisters); and
  4. Relatives within the 4th Degree.

Please see for more information on Korea’s Inheritance Law: Who Inherits What, When and How in Korea?
Also, be aware that you can inherit debt in Korea. Please see: Renouncing an Estate/Inheritance under Korean Law

The team at IPG Legal has dealt with similar issues successfully and we would recommend speaking with an attorney to discuss the options of a will and inheritance in Korea.

Sean Hayes is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw, and IPG Legal is consistently ranked Top Dispute Resolution Law for our litigation services.  

If you would like a consultation with an English-speaking lawyer in Korea, please schedule a call at: Schedule a Call with an Attorney.

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