Papua New Guineans Dying Without Wills

on Tuesday, 06 August 2013. Posted in News

By Scott Waide, EMTV Lae Bureau Chief - Share Article

Papua New Guineans Dying Without Wills
The regional Public Curators Office in Lae says the high number Papua New Guineans dying without wills has created a complicated web of corruption.
 
Public Curator, Kali Ralewa, said people are going to the lands department the National Housing Corporation to have land and housing titles of deceased owners altered illegally.
This has been the source of ongoing court cases between the state and unscrupulous.
 
Every year, in the Momase region, the Public curators office handles close to 200 cases in which people die intestate - or die without leaving wills. It is a complicated situation that has plagued the public curator’s office for many years.
 
Kali Ralewa says 9 out of every 10 Papua New Guineans who own property and other assets die without a will and the responsibility of distributing those assets falls to the curator’s office. 
 
“It’s difficult when you have multiple parties all claiming ownership.”
 
In a country like Papua New Guinea where extended family members can also lay claim to the property of the dead, striking a balance has been very difficult. 
 
Over the last 10 years, the public curator’s office has been very much underfunded.
 
That means officers have been unable to travel to other parts of the country to identify family members and find vital documents that may be held at the village church of district hospital.
 
Leroy Rogers is one example of a person disadvantaged by the absence of a will.
 
Leroy is the biological son of the owner of a property in Lae.  His cousin has also laid claim to the property and the case has been taken to court.  
 
“When my father died, he didn’t leave a will,” he said. “I had to find out through the public curator’s office.”
 
What’s even more disturbing is the corruption that is creeping into a process that is supposed to protect the interests of the deceased and their family members.
 
The curator’s office is currently battling people who have attempted to switch land and house titles owned by people who have died without wills.

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