How does a foreigner inherit real properties in China?
Nov 01, 2011

How does a foreigner inherit real properties in China?

,You may have understood a little bit about how the inheritance/succession law operates in China after reading one of posts here “inherit a real property in China“. I have received a few inquiries on how they should make preparation in order to inherit a house in China. As those questions are quite generic in nature, I summarize the related information for your reference.

Bear in mind that we are talking about inheritance of real properties, including land, houses and apartments, excluding personal properties. Basically, inheritance of real estate means the title of the property will be transfered to the heirs of the deceased, a change of real right in regard of the real estate, or otherwise disposed of for the benefits of the heirs.

1.        Application of Law

As it is a cross-border legal issue, the first question will be which law should be applied in handling the inheritance matter. With the adoption and effectiveness of The Law of PRC on Application of Laws in Foreign-related Civil Relations as from April 1, 2011, it is more clear in regard of application of laws in inheritance matters.

In the case of intestate succession of real estate, the laws of the place where the real estate locates shall apply.

In the case of testate succession of real estate, with respect of the form of will, either the laws of the regular residing place, or the laws of the will-maker’s nationality or the laws of the place where the will is made, at the time of will-making or death of will-maker, shall apply,  and with respect to the validity of the will,  either the laws of the regular residing place, or the laws of the will-maker’s nationality shall apply.

In either cases, the administration and other related matters of the heritage properties (either real or personal) shall be governed by the laws of the place where such heritage properties are located.

Further, where the rights in rem in respect of real properties are involved, the laws of the place where such real properties are located shall govern.

2.        Notarization of Inheritance Right

As mentioned, inheriting a real property in China means that the title deed of the property will pass to the heir by way of effecting title transfer at the local real estate transaction centre where the title deeds of real properties are recorded. To effect the title transfer, one of the most important documents the foreign heir(s) needs to prepare is the notarial deed of right to succession or right to inheritance. Notarization (or legalization, refering to a legal authenticating process), is brought in to ensure the persons are the correct heirs to inherit the properties left by the deceased.

Such notarization on right to inheritance is generally conducted with a notary office in the place of the real properties. To apply for such a notarial deed, the applicant or the heir(s) shall present evidences to prove (1) the death of the deceased, (2) the familial relationship with the deceased (husband-wife, parent-children or other relationship entitled to succeed)  and (3) the title deed of the real property to be inherited.

In the case of testate succession, it is easier to do the notarization by submitting the duly notarized will made by the deceased. It shall be noted that the will made by the deceased shall have to be notarized or otherwise authenticated in accordance with the local laws. Otherwise, Chinese notary office may not be able to issue a notarial deed of right to inheritance, in which case the inheritance will have to be handled at Chinese courts at the place of the real estate.

In the case of intestate succession, the applicant heir shall have to prove that therer are no other heirs or such other heirs have waived their right to inheritance, and if a non-waiving heir has died at the time of succession, the applicant(s) shall also need to submit evidences showing the spouse or children of such dead heir. However given that Chinese notary office has very limited ability and resources to ascertain and verify the heirs of the deceased, generally the notary office will ask the heir(s) to make a written statement that there is no dispute over his right to succession/inheritance, and he or she will take liabilities if later any dispute arises in respect of his or her right to succession.

Notarization of right to inheritance can be done with the assistance of an agent in China so that the foreign heir(s) will not have to come to China themselves. For example, you can entrust a China lawyer to help you with notarization of your right to inheritance. But your power of attorney granted to your agent shall have to be notarized in your home country and authenticated or attested by a Chinese embassy or consulate in your country.

[UPDATED on November 2017: China justice ministry has now issued new notary rules regarding inheritance right notarisation. The gist is that people don’t have to do inheritance right notarisation in order to complete the inheritance of estate of real properties, and instead, the heirs, beneficiaries can now go to real estate authority to present all inheritance documents to complete the inheritance of real properties. Sounds good, right? But for foreigners who have estate in China, it may be impossible for everybody to come over to effect the estate inheritance due to time, age or health, so it may be still advisable to hire a lawyer in China to help with estate inheritance. Indeed, notary feels for inheritance right notarisation has deceased a lot in Shanghai as a response to the change of notary rules in relation to inheritance of real properties. Why? Because if they don’t reduce the fee, they won’t get inheritance right notarisation business as much as before. With the reduction, many people will still think it a good idea to carry out inheritance through the notary office instead of getting everybody to appear at real estate authority.]

3.      Inheritance Litigation

disputes shall have to be solved at courts.

Put it simple, whenever there is a dispute regarding the inheritance of estate, the parties shall need to go to court and the court will decide how the estate will be inherited, disposed and distributed or disbursed among all interested parties.

In some cases, when even there is no dispute among the heirs or beneficiaries, other reasons that may lead the notarisation route to an impasse, for example, as in one of the cases at hand now, the client simply cannot produce the evidence to prove the death of his deceased father’s parents. In this case, notary office will not issue the inheritance right notarisation. Then the only way out of the impasse is to go to court. You may feel puzzled about how you can go to court without a real dispute. But oh yeah, we can do it for you by creating a fake dispute with the single view to getting the court involved to break the impasse.

4.   Alternative Way of Disposing of Real Properties before death

It is always a complicated thing to undergo the proceeding for inheriting a real property in China. Alternatively, it is Jason’s suggestion to clients that if possible, clients should make arrangement for disposing of their real properties in a foreign country before death.

For example, the person that is going to expire may choose to pass the title of the real estate to their beloved spouse or children by way of gifting before they die. Or simply, they sell their properties in China and repatriate the sale proceeds to their home countries and ditribute the cash among their beloved ones. Though there will be transaction taxes to be levied, it may be worth doing in light of the hassle and trouble their heirs will have to tackle in order to inherit the properties after their death.


  1. Yasmin T says:

    Hi Jason, I (former Chinese citizen, now Canadian) living in Canada own/received from my widowed and married-again father an old apartment in Changsha with me on title. In lieu I provided funds for a new apartment. We kept the old one to subsidize his pension. In discussion with my stepmother, we agreed that the new apartment shall be inherited/owned solely by me upon my father’s passing and as compensation he bought a second apartment for my stepmother home town to live. I have concerns, that she might be influenced by her son (my stepbrother) to claim the apartment designated to me. I would like to settle the ownership before my father’s passing. I see options: 1. Transfer ownership of current apartment solely to me, 2. become joint owner with my father with the effect that upon his passing I will remain sole owner, 3. transfer ownership to my Canadian born 19 year old daughter since I might not be allowed to own 2 properties in China. 4. transfer ownership to my Chinese (Beijing) cousin to whom I have 100% trust and settle with her later. My father is getting senile and easy to be influenced and would like to protect this property asap. We do not have too much trust in a will, since this could be manipulated/voided without our knowledge. Are these options valid? The same situation with a bank account of his that was set up for me and my children and shall be protected from my stepmother and in extension from my stepbrother. I am going the last two August 2023 weeks to Changsha to initiate and hopefully finalize this. Any suggestions/recommendations? Do have representation or connections in Changsha? Which documents should I prepare in advance? Legalized Canadian birth certificate of my daughter, legalized Canadian marriage certificate, legalized Canadian Citizenship Certificate, all translated in Chinese? Can you give me a cost idea for your service?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Yasmin, you didn’t mention where the new apartment is, in China? If you have your name on the title deed of the old property with your father, then you may consider having your father name off the deed so as to leave the full ownership to yourself, which is possible. to add your name onto a new title deed, you will need to meet the qualification that you either work or study in Changsha for more than a year.

    2. Jason Tian says:

      hope you have received my reply.

  2. Rebecca Zhu says:

    Hi Jason:
    I am an US citizen. My parents passed away. I have a brother in China. My father owned a house in Beijing, Me and my brother want to put our names on house so we can sell it and split the money. Do you know what documents I need? Do I need a Chinese layer to handle my case (when the house is sold, I don’t have to show up in person)? Thanks for your help.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Rebecca, this is what we have been doing in China for more than a decade. sorry for my late reply, and let me know whether you still need our help on this. We practice this area of law throughout the country, and have several ongoing cases in Beijing.

    2. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Rebecca, let me know if you have received my reply to your inquiry on my blog.

  3. Erna says:

    Hi Jason,

    My father and my step mother bought an apartment in Guangzhou in around year 2000 under joint ownership. My father has passed on in 2016 in Guangzhou without a will. I understand my father’s portion will be distributed among his spouse ( my step mother) and his children ( myself and my 2 brothers) .My step mother would like to sell the house and keep the proceed for her living expenses which all of us agreed , however she told us that we have to forfeit our inheritance right and transfer the ownership to her first so she can be the sole owner in order to put up the house for sale . Both my father and step mother are Indonesian Citizens who have resided in Guangzhou since year 1999 whilst my brothers and I were born in Indonesia holding Singapore Citizenship and residing in Singapore. Would like to seek your advice what is the correct and safest way to sell the house. We want to be sure my step mother will sell the house and keep the proceed for herself and leave the balance if any to us after she passed on and not to transfer to other person.

    My brothers and I would prefer to seek legal advice and help in this matter although my step mother has insisted the process is very simple as long as we can get a notarized letter from a Singapore lawyer then China Embassy to waive our inheritance right and send the letter to her for her to manage in Guangzhou.

    Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Erna, what your step mother said is basically correct. In order for her to sell the property, she has to transfer the title to her name, which will requires your waiver of your inheritance right to your father’s estate in the property. Alternatively, if you don’t want to waive your inheritance right, then your names will have to appear on the new title deed as co-owners with your step mother. Then after inheritance, you and the step mom can sell the property in the market together. I don’t know how old she is and how much she needs for the rest of her life. You may have to be wary of about asking her to leaving anything to you after her demise. Does she have any other children or relatives in China or Indonesia? If the property is of a big value, then you may wish to inherit the estate altogether with her and keep your share in your hands and make it available for her caring in the future, so this way, it is more secure for you and your brothers.

  4. Hong Fan says:

    Hi Jason, recently my mother passed away and left a will for me (i am Australia citizen) to inherit her apartment, regarding to the documents, I had a birth certificate notarization done when i left China for Australia 30 years ago (when i was a Chinese citizen), my question is : could I use this same birth certificate notarization as a kinship certificates for my inherit process now?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      it is fine so long as you can prove the change your identity from Chinese to Aussie. Write an email to me if you want more help.

  5. Sheila Tse says:

    My parent passed away in 1989 and 1999. They built and house in Dongguang, China. An original red book with a plot plan left, with a hand draft will to their descents with witness and stamp. We have 10 siblings, some in Hong Kong, Canada, and the USA. We were told that we must have a ” Ground of probation” ” in Canada because our Dad passed away in Canada in 1999. How can we claim our house? Our uncle’s family is trying to take our house because the Government is trying to have our house under element domain. How should we process?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Sheila, to further communicate on this matter, please let exchange information via emails. So long as the 10 siblings are cooperative with each other, there is no substantial barrier to get back the properties. send me a copy of the title deed book to me when you write an email to me.

  6. Michael Kan says:

    Good evening Mr Jason Tian

    I have quite a complex situation on my hands and faced with a dilemma which I hope you will be able to assist. My grandfather and gran mother left China over 60 years ago and had property in my grandparents name.
    In the mean time my father was the sole aire to the property as both his sisters had passed away.
    My grandparents came to south Africa and had three children namely 2 daughters and a son,all three children born and raised in South Africa.My father Yan Lai was told about the property about 10 years ago by my aunt who also came to South Africa in her early years and lives in South Africa since. She has since died and told my dad a month before her death that the property is now registered in his name. Walter Kan is my dad south African name and my dads Chinese name is Yan Lai. We do not know where the property is as the papers were stolen but my father told us the property is in Shun de. We do not know the physical address though. Is there any way that you can please assist me in this regard as my father has passed away last year January 2018 on the 5th. I have my gran father and gran mother details but only on a tomb stone in south Africa. I will forward the ID of my father and the tomb stone. I have had someone from China interpret the writing on the tomb stone as my family name is Zhang. My gran father was a hero in China as I was told that he fought a war victorious. My gran mother is Sun ah Soo and my gran father is Lai Kan. My father I.D Number is 411218
    5117081 and we were told by my late father’s friend that the property is registered in my fathers South African Identity as he was there 10 years ago but since then my father had no money to fly over and claim his property.
    We have lost contact with my dads friend as he moved from South Africa to The United States.
    Please my mother is now the sole heir to my father’s inheritance. Can you please assist and advise us accordingly.

    Kind regards

    Michael Kan

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Michael, sounds a difficult case if you cannot even locate the location of the estate property. Equally confusing is how the property was transferred to your father’s name from your grandfather and/or grandmother.

      However, since you have your father’s Identity number, it may not be too difficult to locate where he came from and then we may be able to help to find out the property, though it does not mean it is easy.

      Please send more information (esp those in Chinese) about the property and about your family (from your grandparents), them let me see how we can help to get this done.

  7. J L says:

    My siblings and I are inheriting property in Guangzhou. I think we have a good idea of the documentation needed (deed, death certificate, will, birth certificates), the steps to have them ready for use in China (translation, notarization, certification, authentication), but we have a few questions..

    Only I will be able to travel back. Do I need to also bring their IDs or will a copy suffice? Do their IDs need to be translated as well? Does US state ID work?

    Since I’ll need power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf, does the power of attorney have to specify the ability to open bank accounts on their behalf? I assume when we sell the property we would need a Chinese bank account to accept the funds, but we are US citizens and have never had foreign bank accounts. Do they need to present themselves in order to open accounts or can I do it on their behalf with a POA?

    Thank you!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi JL, i don’t much about the situation, so I cannot tell how well you have prepared your documentation. Generally, if any of the heirs cannot make it to come to China, they need to issue power of attorney to others to represent them in the proceeding. As for bank account, you cannot open account on their behalf even if you have the power written in the POA. If there are multiple heirs, it may be advisable to just let one of you to inherit the properties and then after sale, you can share the sale proceeds. Many banks in China won’t open accounts for you if you just hold a travel visa to China. You need to find out which bank can help on that.

      Better not do all this without seeking professional legal help. You may run into walls down the road.

      1. J L says:

        Thank you for the quick response. Can we have a POA specifically direct the proceeds of any sales into my bank account (assuming I can set one up properly)? Could that be a way to retain shared ownership and bypass needing to set up separate accounts in China? It sounds like a questionable approach but would appreciate your thoughts.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          Yes, that works so long as you can open the account in China. It is better that you register your co-ownership as joint tenancy instead of tenancy in common.

  8. Aerin says:

    Hi Jason, I would like to ask about the inheritance of my father’s money in HSBC China Xiamen Sub branch. I am a Malaysian and I have been facing many difficulties in getting back the money to Malaysia. Must we obtain a court order from China court in order to inherit the money? Or is there another way?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Aerin, not sure about your situation. Years ago, i helped an American clients in getting HSBC money out of China. That HSBC is in Shanghai. Things can get confusing in this regard. By the way, did your father leave a Will? If yes, is that will probated in Malaysia?

      1. Aerin says:

        Yes we have the will. However, the will did not mention regarding the money in China so the bank refused to accept the probate.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          got it. But generally a will includes a blanket clause to include all estates anywhere in the world. Not sure whether we can help you on that. If the amount of money is substantial, then you may wish to look into it with our professional services.

          1. Aerin says:

            the Bank does not accept the Will because the residuary clause reads like this “I devise and bequeath all the residue and remainder of my immovable and movable property whatsoever and wheresoever not hereby specifically disposed off in Malaysia to ****” The bank says because the clause stated the word “in malaysia” so it does not include assets in China.

          2. Jason Tian says:

            That is correct understanding and you cannot challenge that. You may have to do the inheritance as intestate succession on this bank deposit accordingly.

  9. Sarah says:

    Hello, my mom passed away several years ago and have a property in shenzhen. My brother and I are the only children, but we’re living in a foreign country. We would like to waived the ownership to the property to my grandmother (mom’s mom). How should we go about this? Do we need to fill out a quitclaim deed form? Is there a chinese form for this? Do we have to get this authenticated at the chinese consulate? Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Sarah, waiver can be easy. We can draft one for you. Does your mom have a will? Pls note that property in Shenzhen is of high value, could be more than USD 10000 per square meters. UNless you and your brother don’t care about it, you may wish to have your grandmother to write up a will in which she will leave some estate to you two upon her departure from the world. Just write me further email to talk about it.

    2. Kevin Sun says:

      hi Jason
      My great grandmother have three ancestor property in shenzhen, I would like to ask how will be the share of the property between grandson or granddaughter?
      My great groundmother have 2 Son, one is still alive with 1 daughter and the other is my grandfather which have pass away 30+ years ago. Who has 3 Son ( one is my father) and 1 daughter.
      Does the share of the property share equally between all of them. Or do my side of the family only share half of the estate? And the other one granddaughter take half of the estate.
      Thank in advance for any advise.

      1. Jason Tian says:

        hi Kevin, things can be more complicated than you thought. Is the property the community property of your great grandparents? Assuming it is the personal and separate property of your great grandmother, then her daughter has a third, and each of the two sons has one third. The children of the son are entitled to the one third of their deceased father. By the way, is the old property still standing there?

      2. Jason Tian says:

        send messages to my email pls.

  10. Amanda says:

    Hi Jason,

    My grandpa has a house in Guan Dong China from before he migrated to the US. Is there any way that he can pass this house to his children or grandchildren who are all citizens in the states but putting in a will?

    Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Amanda, if he has the legal title to the property which is still standing in Guangdong, then your grandfather can bequeath it to any beneficiary in his will. However, depending on whether his property was purchased before 1949, it is hard to tell. If you have a copy of the title deed of the property, then pls send me a copy of the deed to my email (one of the emails listed on the homepage of the blog).

  11. Ellen says:

    Hi Jason,

    My grandfather had 2 buildings in Di Hai, Kaiping, Guandong that were torn down by the Chinese Government and a new one was put up to compensate for the torn down buildings so they could build a new road. The deeds for the two buildings list my 2 aunts, my father and my grandmother as owners of the buildings. My father and grandmother passed away in the 1980’s so we need to get a new deed for the one new building listing my 2 aunts and my dad’s family (spouse and 5 children). Is it possible to apply for the new deed just listing my 2 aunts and my mother, excluding the children? We all live in the U.S. and would prefer not to be listed on the deed. Will we need to sign a waive to be excluded? Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Ellen, is there any tension between you and your siblings and the aunties? In any case, you have the right to be listed as owners on the new title deeds. It is important that we know how your aunties present the case to the local governments. Strictly speaking, if your father’s name was on the old title deed, they cannot hide him away. Pls send me more details via email.

  12. Lulu Wu says:

    Hi, Jason,

    My mom and dad were divorced many years ago (around 2012) with stipulation that they will give me their marital property – a condo in Beijing to me. But they condo has not been transferred title since then. Mom passed away in 2015 after the stipulation, survived by my grandmother and I.The title of condo is under my dad’s name only. My dad remarried in 2014. My mon’s name is not on the deed of the condo. But it is a marital asset from the marriage. I wonder how can I assume the ownership of the condo?

    1. If my dad is unwilling to transfer the title to me now, will it help to ask him to write a will?
    2. Does my grandmother need to sign a waiver for this condo?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Lulu, do you have a copy of the divorce document? Did they divorce through court or by agreement? If your Dad remarried, you’d better not wait too long as your step momnther could persuade him to sell it without your knowledge.

      Strictly speaking, there is an inheritance of your mom’s estate to be dealt with. YOu have the right to claim your ownership in the property either based on inheritance or divorce document. We need to further study the possibility of your right to take over the full ownership based on the divorce document.

      Yes, you should get your grandmother to make a waiver but only on the condition that your father agrees to give you what you deserve. In light of the private nature of the matter, please let us further communicate via emails.

  13. XHL says:


    I am a Chinese national but living overseas.

    My mother died two years ago. My father is still alive and living in China.

    I should inherit my parents’ apartment. However, as my grandmother on my mother’s side (my Laolao) is still alive I am told that my mother’s share of the house first goes to my grandmother (Laolao) and that after she dies her remaining children will have an interest in the property before me.

    My father’s parents are both deceased.

    Is it correct that my wife’s grandmother (mother’s side) has an interest in the property before me?

    Also, I currently live overseas and I am married to a foreign national. I may take citizenship from another country which will mean giving up my Chinese citizenship. What complications will this create for my situation?

    Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi, it is right that your laolao shall have a share in the estate left by your mom, and her share will be inherited by her surviving children (your mom’s siblings, not you). To make it easier, it is best that your can convince your grandmother (laolao) to waive her right to the estate. Since your Dad is still alive, he will end up with the majority of the whole property. is there any conflict between you and your Dad? Your naturualization into a foreign citizen won’t deprive your right to the estate,though it will make the process a bit more complicated. Where is the property? Pls send me en email for further communication on the matter.

  14. christy lim says:

    My father has been given title to the ancestral land in Xiamen with all his living siblings refusing the rights to it. But currently there are cousins who are occupying the property without the rights to it. We would like to reclaim it and maybe just sell the rights to them or others as we all live outside of China. I have copies of the original title to the land and would like to proceed with the sale and do not know how we are going to do this with all of us now in Manila.
    Please let us know if you are able to help us resolve this.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Dear Christy, amaz that there are so many people in east Asia surnamed “Lim”. Can you please send me the title of the property for review? Are you in agreement with all uncles and aunts of your father siblings? Glad to help if that is possible.

  15. Lea Chen says:

    Hi Jason:
    I am an US citizen. My parents passed. I have 2 sisters in China. Can we put all of our names on the deed for my parents’ real estate property? What documents do I need to send them? Thanks for your help.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      yes, that is possible. As for documents, we will advise you on this in separate email.

  16. Mitchell says:

    Hi Jason, my parents (both PRC citizens living permanently overseas) own two properties in Shanghai. I’m their only child and I was born in China but I’ve now taken up foreign citizenship since turning 18. They have been talking about their wills but seem adamant that I cannot inherit both properties because I do not hold PRC citizenship anymore. Is this correct or not?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Mitchell, not really. Even though you don’t have PRC citizenship, you will still be able to inherit the properties. We will be happy to assist your parents with drafting the wills.

  17. Ryan shaw says:

    Hello Jason, my da goo recently told me that my ye ye owned a house in Bei Jing where she grew up. She has gone back to visit the house, however seven or eight families live there today. She told me she still has the deed to the house and that the house was purchased with money earned from a book written by my ye ye.

    Ye ye passed away decades ago and my nai nai is about to turn 100. She cannot travel. They had six kids, including my dad, but only four are alive today. And only one of the four still lives in China and Taiwan while the three others live in the states. They talk about reclaiming the house they grew up in.

    How likely is it that the government would agree to reappropriate a house to the original owners even though most have left the country?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Shaw, so I guess the deed is a very old one before the new PRC founding, right? Or it is some kind of title deed issued in later 1980s or early 1990s? If the latter, then you may be able to reclaim it. If the former case, it could be a dead end there.

      When did your grandfather leave China or leave the house in Beijing? Why has it been left unattended for so long? Does your auntie find out why those people live there? do they live there with government permission or just unauthorized squatters?

  18. Derek says:

    MY father and his brothers and sisters jointly own a property in China. My father and some of my uncles and aunts had passed away. I would like to find out how the property/names on deed be transferred from my father’s generation to next generation, i.e. my and my nephew’s generation. I am currently resided in Canada, some of my nephews are in Hong Kong/China, some in the USA. Could you please shed some lights on next steps for us. Thanks

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Derek, sure, we’d be happy to assist as this is something I have been practicing for many years. Generally, the first thing to do in an inheritance matter is to find out details about the estates. For example, if it is a piece of real property, you would need to find out in whom the title is vested. If the title is vested in your father, then you (other heirs) have the legal right to inherit the estates. Then, you will need to prepare documents that are required for completing the inheritance at which point we will be advising you on that. So do you know where the properties are located, i mean the addresses? do you have title deeds of those properties?

  19. Jean Lee says:


    My uncle who was a US citizen married a wife in china and he bought her a small apartment long time ago. He passed away recently and his wife is now in America asking for signed notarization and US driver’s license from my mother (my uncle’s sister) that my uncle had no children. I just want to make sure this is legal. Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      If the property is registered in her name only, then she dosn’t need your mother to sign anything at all. If your uncle’s name appeared on the title deed, then she is the legal devisee to receive the full title of the property. She may need documents from USA to prove that your uncle’s parents had died before the death of her husband.

  20. Jason Lee says:

    First off, thank you so much for writing this article, it was very helpful! I have a question for you: My mother’s parents have passed away and the deed to the house has been given to her or divided between her and her siblings.

    The siblings are trying to sell the property and my mother wants forfeit the deed so they can sell it. She was born in China but has immigrated to Canada 40 years ago. I believe shes getting the deed mailed to her soon.

    Shes wondering how she can go abouts forfeiting her ownership.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Jason, so your mom’s name has appeared on the title deed already, right? In that case, she may simply grant the POA to one of his siblings and direct the money to be paid into their accounts.

      1. Jason Lee says:

        Hi Jason, thanks for your quick reply.
        No, I just called my mom today and this is the situation: Her parents passed away without a will, the deed is still in her parent’s names. She is the middle child of 5 siblings which I assume all inherited the deed by by Order of Succession?

        All siblings no longer live in China and would like to give up their house their nephews who are asking them all to forfeit by signing some documents being mailed to her. Due to a language barrier, I’m not sure what documents she is referring to, nor am I 100% certain of the situation but does this sound correct and as straight forward as it appears?

        Does she still need to seek out a Notary or does it appear that her relatives have already done all this and just require my mother’s signature?

        1. Jason Tian says:

          Hi Jason, right all siblings have equal right to inherit. the situation can be very complicated if either paternal or maternal grandparents of your mom were alive at the time of death of either your mom’s dad or mom. I don’t think the nephew will have any legal way to get the title of the properties. My understanding is that the title shall have to go to the five siblings or one of them before the title can be transferred to others. Can you tell me where the property is exactly located? Let us communicate by way of emails instead of this public places.

  21. M says:

    Hi Jason,
    My brother , a non prc citizen, owns property in shanghai and died intestate a 7 years ago.
    My parents are still alive. Do they have a right to claim entitlement and us tgeir claim statute barred?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi M, sure, your parents have equal rights in inheriting the property as your brother’s spouse and children. Let me know how you wish to proceed with the inheritance.

  22. nestor yu says:

    im chinese citizen living here in taiwan, my father left a 5 story building property, which is located in xiamen, zhongshan rd. in mainland china.
    my father died on feb. 5, 1992 in our birth place phillippines
    since he was old and sick ,there is no any will or testament he left behind
    but we have a xerox copy of the land title and we verified that the said property still in the name of my father. we have the death certificate of our father and mother and proof of relationship.
    now, we have a relative in china ,who taking care of the property and having it for rent. we already make a visit but refuse to show us the property document
    can we make a direct claim on china government without any last will
    hope to help us find a way to claim the property of my father .
    thank you very much…

  23. nestor yu says:

    i;m chinese citizen living here in taiwan, my father left a 5 story building property, which is located in xiamen, zhongshan rd. in mainland china.
    my father died on feb. 5, 1992 in our birth place phillippines
    since he was sick and weak ,there is no any will or testament he left behind
    but we have a xerox copy and death certificate of our father and mother
    now we have a relative in china ,who taking care of the property and having it for rent. we already make a visit but refuse to show us the property document
    can we make a direct claim on china government without any last will
    hope tohelp us find a way to claim the property of my father .
    thank you very much…

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Nestor, yes for sure. I think we should not discuss the matter too much here. Please send more information about the property and the family situation. For example, when your father bought the property, whether he was married at the time of purchase, was he married at the time of death, how old he was at the time of death, how many children he had. There will be a lot of work to be undertaken before we can prove your heriship.

  24. Jun Chen says:

    Hi Jason,

    My name is John and I will interested in getting in touch with you regarding a property in Guangzhou that was owned by my grandmother. She passed away and the property was occupied by my uncle. He also passed away recently. Based on my knowledge the title of the property is still under my grandmother’s name.

    My father’s generation, brothers and sisters, all passed away. Is there anyway I can go about this?


    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Jun, yes, let us continue our discussion through the emails.

  25. David Chung says:

    Hey Jason,

    My name is David I had a inquiry regarding regarding some land that might have been passed down to me from Shenzhen. Please reach out to me via email if you are interested in helping. Thank you!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi David, i will follow up with email shortly.

  26. Jennifer says:

    I just wanted to leave a note of appreciation for your help Jason. My family and I are very grateful and appreciative of your help in helping us through our inheritance issue with my father’s property in Shanghai and subsequent sale of the property. Without your help, we would still probably be stuck.
    You guided us through the complicated administrative process but made it relatively easy and uncomplicated for us, and thank you for managing the entire legal process of the inheritance and subsequent sale including liaising with the local authorities and real estate agents. We didn’t know any lawyers in China, so I am really glad that we stumbled upon your blog, and that you have been very helpful, knowledgeable (and able to communicate in English with us :)) and patient throughout the process.
    I would be happy to recommend your services to anyone needing help in this area. All the very best in your future practice!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      wow… Jennifer, this is the best surprise I could have received after all this long process of inheritance and sale of the property, much sweeter than the chocolate you bought for my son. I am very happy to know you and let us keep in touch in the future!

      1. Jennifer says:

        Yes, definitely we shall keep in touch! 🙂

  27. Catherine says:

    My father and mother owns a property in Shenzhen. My mother passed away a long time ago without a will. I was told by my father whom I no longer associate with that without a will her portion of the property will be distributed bewteen me, my brother and her siblings. My father is trying to get us to forfeit our portion so he can make the sale easily and deal with the matter seperately in Hong Kong using solictiors. He is making out that it is really complicated to deal with the chinese government and suggested this is the best option. I do not trust my father, your advice will be much appreciated.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Dear Catherine, yes, you are right to seek independent advice on the issue. I don’t know how much a value the property is, and I suppose it is substantial.

      Please send me in a separate email the details about your inheritance situation: when your parents got married, and when she died, when the property is bought, how many siblings you have, the nationalities of all related persons (your mom, Dad a,d you and your siblings).

      Then I will give you further advice. Also let me have the address of property so I can check out on its value.

      I am currently helping two other foreign clients in dealing with their inheritance in Shenzhen and one of the clients is also from Australia.

  28. Kent says:

    Hello Jason,

    I inherited a property in Shanghai, it is an office space. I have already gone through the title transfer and the property is now in my name. My question is, me being an American citizen, is there a time limit that I can be the owner of this property before I need to sell it (like 2 or 3 years max) or am I legally allowed to hold on to it for as long as I need before I can sell it? The reason I ask is because we’ve been trying to sell it but apparently with many new recent regulations, there haven’t been many buyers so I will probably have to hold on to it for at least a couple of years. The property has been in my name since June of 2015. Your feedback is much appreciated!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Kent, you are allowed to keep it as long as you wish. In addition, you can rent it out. Yes, the market is not very active recently. However if you can sell it, you may not want to keep it for long since it is very likely that there won’t be much room for rise if not collapse. In either case, I would be glad to help on the sale or management of your property. As for management of the property, we can help you to lease it to tenants on good leasing terms ensuing you will be in upper hand if anything goes wrong. We will also help you to repatriate the lease proceeds out of China to your home country.

  29. Lynette says:

    Hi Jason,

    Can you please assist me with regards to inherating property in china (Dai Dun). I am form South africa and My Grandfather left a document stating that the proprtties must be shared amoung his five children. I am not sure if this is a leagal will.
    My grandfather and all his children have all passed away many years back. I have found some of my cousins in China which are the rightfull decendants to my grandfather and we are all in co-operation that the property should be shared amoung his grandchildren. we do not have any title deeds but the cousins in china says the properties still exsist. There is currently a housekeeper at one one the properties taking care of the place and apparently he has a copy of the title deeds but wont release them to us.



    1. Jason Tian says:

      Lynette, can you please go further to tell the details of the matter? When did your grandfather die? At the time of death, his marital status? when was the property bought? It seems a very complicated case with so many year back and so many grandchildren involved. I cannot help much unless i know the details. I will be sending you a request for information and then you can provide those information as requested.

  30. Yuli Chew says:

    My grandfather have several ancestor houses and farm land in Yongchun, Fujian, China. We had limited contacts since 1949. We have a deed for a house and 4 pieces of land, the rests are only listed in the correspondence. I am an US citizen now and many of my cousins are in Malaysia. My questions are: 1) Do you have an associate legal firm in Yongchun that can help evaluate our case? 2) Can you recommend a title search company?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      we don’t have an office in Yongchun. Actually there is no such a thing called “title search company” in China. do you have any relatives living there who can testify in your favor? I am afraid your story is too far away back in history that may bear no fruit today. You can send me a copy of the title deed for a look.

  31. Ho Sai Chong says:

    Jason Thank you. Whatever information I have have been given to you. I am from Malaysia Regards

  32. Ho Sai Chong says:

    My grandpa owned a house in Nanha which was looked after by a distant relative who is since deceased. A check with the land authority recently reveals that the house is now registered in the name of the deceased. An attempt was made to transfer the house to someone some time back was refused as the Village Head and the villagers know that the house was owned by my Grandpa. It also reveals that there was a registration exercise in the eighties when the government officials asked the deceased whether the house beloned to him and he said yes and hence the house was registered in his name. I do not have the title deed and the house remained in its original condition. Plesae advise how do I go about claiming the house. Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi there, where is the Nanha? in which part of China mainland? Is your grandpa still alive? What do you have to prove that the property is your grandpa’s? It is in a rural village? I need much more information in order to advise you on that. You should take action quickly to prevent the fake owners’ heirs from inheriting the property. Otherwise, it will be much more difficult to take back the property.

      1. Ho Sai Chong says:

        TQ My grandpa died many many years ago. His house is at Guangdong Nanhai Yimpo Loke Village. The title deed is no longer available but the villagers can be witnesses that the house belonged to my grandpa.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          Does that house still stand there? who is taking care of it? For many village house, there are no titles at all.

          1. Ho Sai Chong says:

            The house is still in its orginal condition and locked. I have checked with the land authorities who informed me that it is now registered in my grandpa’s keeper name. He attempted to transfer the house some years back but was objected to by the then Village Headman who knew that the house belonged to my grandpa. Even the Ancestor’s Tablet of my Grandpa is still found in the house. Thank you.

          2. Jason Tian says:

            Hi Ho Sai Chong, please write to me via my email and gather all information you have come to know and share it with me. I will help you to see whether you are having a good case. Where do you come from?

  33. Phil says:

    You mention it would be best to make a donation of the real estate property before the person passes away. What is the Law on donation in China? What principles apply?

    What happens if there are two heirs of the same rank ? Can the deceased still give his house in full to one of the heir and exclude the other heir?