Wills and Inheritance Law in Vietnam

Information on making a will in Vietnam; the restrictions and the requirements involved…

It is common practice for people who live or own assets in Vietnam to have a will. A will protects the person’s wishes when they die, so that their estate may be passed on to their heirs.

Only foreigners who are permanent legal residents of Vietnam may have a Vietnamese will, however, Vietnamese law does not clearly define what permanent residency is for foreigners. A legal will from the foreigner’s home country is generally honoured by the Vietnamese legal system if the person who made the will has not been granted permanent legal residency in Vietnam.

Married people may make either a joint will of their shared assets or may prepare separate wills.

Requirements

A Vietnamese will must either be made in writing or dictated orally before at least two witnesses. It needs to indicate the following:

  • The date
  • The full name and address of the person who is making the will
  • All bequeathed properties, their locations and any obligations or conditions for the beneficiaries

The will can not contain any abbreviations, and every page of the will must be signed by the person who made the will. Although having the will notarised or certified is not a legal requirement in Vietnam, it is considered to make the document more acceptable should a dispute arise that causes the will to be contested in the Civil Court. If the will is made at a public notary office, the person who is making the will must do so in person. Vietnamese notaries generally refer a foreigner to their own consulate or embassy for notary services.

If the will is dictated orally, it must also be done before at least two witnesses. The witnesses must take accurate dictation from the person who is making the will and certify this fact with their signatures.

A Vietnamese will should include only property that is physically present in Vietnam. If property is owned outside of Vietnam, it should be included in a separate will made in the country where the property is located. A Vietnamese will that includes property outside of Vietnam will result in significant delays in the Vietnamese courts.

Although having a Vietnamese will prepared by an attorney is not a requirement, there are several firms specialising in family law and estate matters that can assist individuals in drawing up a will, as well as representing the family of the deceased in regards to inheritance matters. The majority of law firms that specialise in assisting foreigners living in Vietnam with civil legal matters are located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

This article was prepared with the assistance of AV Law LLC, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.