Fok estate dispute originally settled in 2012 but was restarted in 2016

A recent story found here outlines the latest developments with respect to the estate of the the Henry Fok. According to the story, the dispute lasted close to a decade and involved close to $1.45 billion in assets. Henry was a Hong Kong billionaire. At the time of his death in 2006 he was 83 years old. Additionally, he was Hong Kong’s 7th wealthiest person and the world’s 181st wealthiest. Henry had thirteen children from three marriages. Legal action with respect to his estate settled in 2012. At the time, his estate was worth an estimated $1.45 billion.

A dispute involving a development project in mainland China restarted the fight in 2016. The family’s company, Henry Fok Estates owned the project. The dispute involved a single share in the project transferred in 1997. The share was transferred from a subsidiary of Henry Fok Estates to the Fok Ying Tung Foundation for the price of $1 HKD. A buyback of the share expired expired in 2007. Importantly, the buyback would have enabled the subsidiary to regain the share at a cost of $1 HKD. Henry’s five children from his first marriage own the subsidiary in equal shares. As a result, the share remained with the Foundation. Henry’s eldest son, Ian Fok, leads the Foundation as chief executive. One of the accusations made by three children from Henry’s first marriage was that Ian concealed the buyback agreement. Ian’s position was that he did not breach his fiduciary duties.

None of the allegations involving the latest dispute ever had to be proven in Court. All thirteen of Henry’s children agreed to confidential terms that resolved the matter.

Fok estate settlement allows the parties to move on with their lives

Estate litigation can be very stressful and emotionally draining. Even if the parties involved are fighting over inheritances, the underlying source of conflict may go back decades. On occasion, the parties (or siblings) involved may have grudges against each other going back to their childhoods. If that is the case, then the fight is not only over money or assets. The fight can be seen by the parties involved as a final opportunity to get even for wrongs suffered in the past. This is why many estate fights take a significant emotional toll on all involved. Additionally, the situation can become especially difficult when the parties are wealthy and legal costs are not a major consideration.

Settling an estate fight has many benefits. The parties stop accruing legal costs and the matter remains confidential. Mediation and settlement negotiations in a confidential setting allow the parties and their lawyers to remain in control of the outcome. Moreover, everyone can work together and come up with a creative solution to the dispute. If the parties fail to settle and advance the matter to a hearing, any decision by a Court may be reported publicly. This means that a family’s affairs and private details may end up accessible to the public via online sources and legal databases. Finally, this loss of privacy may be a significant problem in the future. This is especially true if the estate involves business or many millions of dollars.

As the Fok Estate dispute is settled, there should be no further developments.

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