The case may be the statutory legacy and interest to

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the case may be (the "statutory legacy"), and interest to which he or she may be entitled. Others entitled to share in the residuary estate, however, can object and in such a case the court must decide whether or not to prohibit the proposed appropriation. In effect, section 7 gives the surviving spouse the right to buy the intestate's personal chattels out of his or her relevant statutory legacy subject, of course, to other interested relatives not objecting. 8.6 The Ordinance contains no provisions enabling a surviving spouse to acquire the matrimonial home, whether by purchase or otherwise. Present position unsatisfactory 8.7 We are in agreement with the basic structure of the present scheme of distribution to the various categories of relations provided in section 4 and summarised above. We consider, however, that the hypothetical testator would have treated his surviving spouse more generously than the present rules of distribution permit on an intestacy where the intestate also leaves issue or a relation surviving. 8.8 The statutory legacy to a surviving spouse is the key to the pattern of devolution set out in section 4 of the Ordinance. The amounts of the statutory legacy were fixed in 1971 at $25,000 or $100,000, depending on whether or not issue also survive the intestate. The power to raise these amounts, contained in the Ordinance, was exercised for the first time in 1983 when the amounts were doubled to $50,000 or $200,000 respectively. We consider that these amounts are still far too small. 8.9 Where a spouse and issue survive, the statutory legacy in England has generally been supposed to be related to the value of an average suburban home, the purpose being that the statutory legacy should extend at least to the value of the matrimonial home. We are of the view that a reasonable basis for calculating an appropriate level for the statutory legacy payable under the Ordinance would be to fix a sum sufficient to allow a surviving spouse in Hong Kong to purchase the average small matrimonial home. The present $50,000 is obviously insufficient for this purpose. 8.10 Where a spouse and no issue survives but there are relations remaining, additional considerations apply. There, the rules of distribution should also reflect the reasonable expectations of other surviving members of the intestate's family. In particular, it may be thought appropriate that the statutory legacy there should not be so great as to result, where the estate is large, in a huge windfall to the surviving spouse and so indirectly to his or her family at the expense of the intestate's own family. Nonetheless, we consider the existing amount of $200,000 to be far too small. 38
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Recommendation: the statutory legacies 8.11 We recommend that the amount payable to a surviving spouse under section 4(3) of the Ordinance where issue survive the intestate, should be increased from $50,000 to $500,000.
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