In early 2016, a highly-publicized family feud over the control of Evergreen Group erupted when the late tycoon, Chang Yung-fa’s youngest son, Chang Kuo-wei, published his father’s will designating him as the successor and principal personal beneficiary. At the time of Chang Yung-fa’s death, four Evergreen Group-listed subsidiaries including Eva Airways, Central Reinsurance, Evergreen International Storage & Transport and Evergreen Marine amassed a combined market capitalization of approximately USD$4.01 billion. Chang’s personal net wealth was estimated at USD$1.6 billion placing him as Taiwan’s 17th richest individual.
Chang Kuo-wei publically announced that he would take over the Evergreen Group conglomerate as the group chairman, while stating he was acting in conformity with his late father’s wishes. However, Chang Kuo-wei’s three older brothers challenged the move stating the details of the succession were still being finalized, and later convened an unscheduled board meeting that led to the ousting of Chang Kuo-wei as the chairman of Eva Airways, as well as his prompt removal from the board of Evergreen International Storage & Transport and Evergreen Marine.
It is important to remember that last wills and testaments are powerful documents. They allow for the proper distribution of estates and the selection and appointment of heirs and guardianships. However, a will is only a part of your entire estate plan, particularly if you have complex familial relationships and extensive wealth requiring optimal management according to your true wishes. Business owners also ought to be prepared to structure appropriate succession plans taking into consideration of applicable tax implications for the transfer of assets. Should a trust or estate matter ever become contested due to incompleteness, it is crucial to seek litigation expertise to resolve the matter. Thus, a complete estate plan should not rely on a single will, but should also consider other instruments for the proper administration and transfer of assets such as a power of attorney, a living will, and trusts to allow for comprehensive control over your entire assets.
A power of attorney with adequate instructions allows a person of your choice to make financial and health-related decisions on your behalf when you become incapacitated. On the other hand, a living will, or otherwise known as an advanced directive, is a document that stipulates your wishes indicating what must be done in certain scenarios. Living trusts can provide for the family members and individuals, animals, and organizations by setting aside assets outside of your last will. This would prevent the assets from entering into probate, while taxes are generally less onerous in trusts compared to estate taxes.
At Liu & Partners Attorneys-at-Law, we can assist with your business and individual needs regarding wills, trusts, powers of attorney, succession plans, investment and wealth management, estate planning and administration, tax planning, and estate litigation. Please contact us if you are interested in finding out more about the above services in Taiwan and beyond.