Death of Taiwan Spouse


Sorry for your loss.

In my experience it has been common that if known in advance, before passing, many will distribute as many of their assets as possible. Not sure if this is a suitable strategy for people who find themselves in this situation in Taiwan.


Just so I understand, even if my wife and I have a will that states 100% of our estate should go to the surviving spouse, her parents get half of our estate due to the fact that civil law supercedes whatever our will says?


They have a right to take quarter.

Article 1187
A testator may freely dispose of his property by a will so far as it does not contravene the provisions in regard to compulsory portions.

Article 1223
The compulsory portion of an heir is determined as follows:
(1) For a lineal descendant by blood, the compulsory portion is one half of his entitled portion;
(2) For a parent, the compulsory portion is one half of his entitled portion;
(3) For a spouse, the compulsory portion is one half of his entitled portion;
(4) For a brother or a sister, the compulsory portion is one-third of his or her entitled portion;
(5) For a grandparent, the compulsory portion is one-third of his entitled portion.


Sorry to hear of your loss.

I would be curious to know what would happen when a married foreigner dies, does that mean his or her family can claim inheritance from the Taiwanese spouse?


Well, this confirms that 1. Never going to buy property here, 2. All investments will be outside of Taiwan.


Let’s say the two of you have a million dollars, all of it acquired during the marriage. (I don’t think it legally matters whose account it’s in–that is unless the money is in a foreign jurisdiction.)

Your spouse dies. Half of the money is yours anyway, so 1/2 million. Plus you inherit half of the spouse’s half, for an extra 1/4 million–putting you up to 750,000.

Normally the remaining quarter million should go to the entitled heirs, if any. However, this amount can be reduced if your spouse writes a will. If the entitled heirs are the spouse’s parents, then their amount can be reduced by half, to 1/8 million,leaving you 875,000. If siblings or grandparents, it can be reduced by 2/3, to 1/12 million, leaving you…ah, 916,667.

(Conveivably, the spouse might also reduce your share by half.)

Interesting things happen when not all the assets are in Taiwan. Let’s say you have another million in a foreign bank account, in a county which automatically gives you the money. Will a Taiwan court take this into consideration, when determining the disposition of the million dollars which is in Taiwan?


They might consider it as it pertains to dividing up anything local, if they knew about it, but I don’t see how they could enforce anything having to do with the foreign account itself.


I would make a list of all the assets and check with a lawyer to get a clearer picture of how it actually works in your case.

They have a law to deal with the foreign elements.


One more complicating factor a Taiwan lawyer just pointed out. Since my wife was also a citizen of the USA at the time of her death, the community property laws of our state of residence can apply. So since we were joint owners of our condo here our state law says I inherit all.


Sorry to hear about the complications at a difficult time like this, I hope it can all get sorted out quickly.


Was the court using the principle of “dominant nationality” (which determines which nationality prevails, if you are dual), or the principle of residence? Apparently it was not going by the location of the property.


Yes dominant nationality has been the USA for over 11 years.


Some things hinge on domicile instead of nationality.

Please let us know how it works out.


The USA doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, so the US courts should not be basing anything on her being a Taiwanese citizen since she’s a US citizen.

I would imagine that Taiwanese courts don’t care about US law and will divide according to Taiwanese law.


As YYY has pointed out, many private law matters depend on domicile, not citizenship. There is an area of law called “International Private Law” (IPR), which deals with cases like this. Hence, both ROC and US courts would not only look at nationality. Whether either the US or ROC recognise multiple citizenships is also irrelevant for this question.


Does anyone know a good lawyer in Taipei area who deals with inheritance issues and can speak English?