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Registration of wills service is in demand

    Elderly Shanghai residents are now able to write a will and keep it secret from their families with the launch of a local branch of the China Will Registration Center.

    Jointly founded by China Aging Development Foundation and Beijing Sunny Senior Health Foundation four years ago, the center has six branches across the country — Beijing, Tianjin, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Guangxi and now Shanghai.

    So far this non-profit program has served more than 100,000 elderly people and keeps over 70,000 wills for them. The service aims at helping to avoid disputes over inheritance.

    According to Zhao Zhongxing, head of the Shanghai branch, the city’s population aged above 60 reached nearly 4.6 million by the end of last year, representing 31.6 percent of the population, almost double the national average.

    “Many elders in Shanghai had written to us, requiring a branch in their city,” said Cai Sheng, vice chairman of the China Will Registration Center. “We also received people from Shanghai at other branches.”

    To avoid being put under pressure by the applicant’s children or relatives, once an application has been accepted, the elderly person wishing to make a will is taken to a room with only an officer at the center present.

    The applicant is asked to write down his or her will and then read it in front of a camera, to ensure their words are recorded carefully. The will can be considered as evidence in court in case of any dispute.

    At the branch, located in a residential complex on Honggu Road, Changning District, a grandmother was applying for a registration on Friday.

    The woman, who is in her 80s, asked not to be identified. She said she had two children, a daughter and an idle son who had remarried, to a woman with the same extravagant lifestyle as he has. “She even told my son to ask me to sell my house and allocate the money to them.”

    The old lady then decided to leave her house to her daughter, who was asked to only to help her brother if there was an emergency. The grandmother, who has had cancer surgery, said she feels time is running out as she is getting weak.

    Consequently, she wants to have an official document on property distribution. “I went to the notary office but was informed that I need to wait a long time, but I cannot wait,” she said. “So when I heard the news about a will registration center in Shanghai I sprang up from the bed and hurried here.”