Inheritance involves the vital interests of thousands of families, the interests of any spouse's creditor(s) and ensuring that property and assets are transferred securely. Unlike other jurisdictions where testaments are widely used, the Chinese are still reluctant to use wills or other testamentary dispositions to deal with property problems after one's death. Therefore, the intestate succession system continues to be an important way of dealing with inheritance disputes in many provinces in China. With the development of China's economy and the generally increasing wealth of its people, private enterprises, including self-employed households, have become an important force in economic development. The owners of these enterprises, that is, private entrepreneurs, tend to have even more wealth. They have more inheritable interests than others, and their heirs are more likely to fall into succession disputes. Civil law codification is currently underway in China. Therefore, we carried out a survey on the property ideas and inheritance habits of Chinese private entrepreneurs during the first two months of 2017. Owing to limited funds and the general Chinese tendency to avoid any discussion of property problems with strangers, we had to conduct this survey in a comparatively unusual way to discover entrepreneurs ‘attitudes. The responses came from students’ face-to-face interviews, which to some extent might influence the scientific validity of the survey. But they are indeed suggestive of what this special group of people with property might think. Owing to space limitations, we only present the data on the intestate inheritance system part of the questionnaire, analyse their responses on intestate inheritance and inheritance habits, summarising the characteristics of the respondents and analysing the main reasons given for their choices. From the analysis of this survey and studies of scholars ‘legislative proposals, we put forward suggestions on intestacy legislation for the Succession Part of the Civil Code based on Chinese individuals’ positions.
BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE RESPONDENTS
The survey was carried out by investigators from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, China. During their winter holiday break in 2017, investigators visited entrepreneurs in their respective hometowns and recorded the questionnaires, eventually collecting 179 sets of responses from Sichuan, Chongqing, Hebei, Fujian, and other provinces and cities.