Heirs gird for court battle over late billionaire's fortune

December 10, 2015 14:11
Yu Pengnian reportedly pledged to donate his entire fortune, estimated to be worth 10 billion yuan, to charity. Photos: HKEJ

The heirs of Yu Pengnian, one of China's biggest philanthropists, are set to contest each other in court over his will.

Yu, who died last year at the age of 93, is believed to have pledged to donate his entire fortune, estimated to be worth 10 billion yuan (US$1.55 billion), to charity after his death, Apple Daily reported.

However, Yu’s second son Peng Yafan and his son Peng Xinhan did not agree with the will.

Yu’s great grandson Peng Zhibing, whom the late billionaire had appointed as his will's sole executor, will ask the High Court as soon as Friday to validate the will and order its execution in full.

Solicitor Keith Ho Man-kei from Wilkinson & Grist, who will represent Peng Zhibing, said his client is determined to honor the will of his late grandfather.

Yu had two sons and seven grandchildren.His elder son and wife had died before him.

In 2010 Yu made public his intention to donate all of his wealth to charity. He made a will in English in 2012, with Peng Zhibing appointed as the sole executor to act on the terms of the will.

Except for valuables kept in two safe boxes which are reserved for his grandsons, Yu said in his will everything else would be injected into the Yu Pang-lin Charity Foundation.

However, the asset injection has yet to take place.

Peng Zhibing later found that Peng Yafan and his son Peng Xinhan had filed a will caveat, basically an objection to the will, with the Probate Registry at the High Court.

Records at the Probate Registry showed that Peng Yafan and Peng Xinhan filed an objection on Sept. 25 and Nov. 5, respectively.

Solicitor Vitus Leung Wing-hang said the purpose of filing will caveats is to inform the Probate Registry that there are other parties to inform and consider in the processing of the estate.

Leung said if Yu’s will was ruled invalid in court, his two sons would split his estate, meaning Peng Yafan could pocket 5 billion yuan as a result.

Born in Hunan province, Yu came to Hong Kong in the 1950s and eventually became a hotelier and real estate magnate.

One of his well-known properties in Hong Kong is the former home of martial arts star Bruce Lee in Kowloon Tong.

Yu was known for making frequent generous donations to good causes.

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