Today we talk to Alfred Ip – one of the founding partners of the firm – about the recent initiative.
How did you decide to team up with PathFinders? Can you highlight the NGO’s main goals?
We have always admired what the NGO does, in fact PathFinders is the only organisation in Hong Kong dedicated to supporting the many challenges that children born to migrant workers face. It engages with governmental departments, consulates, international agencies and local stakeholders to ensure that policies and practices include and support the unique vulnerabilities of this vital and often undervalued workforce in our society.
I think we all need to treasure the contributions that MDWs bring to our society and the impact that PathFinders brings as a critical source of support in providing emergency shelter and essential supplies to the ones in need, as well as assisting MDWs in negotiating with their employers to maintain employment in the case of pregnancy and supporting their immigration status needs.
PathFinders adopts an educational, preventive and forward-looking approach towards ensuring that a migrant workers’ pregnancy is considered and planned, thereby enabling a clear, stable and brighter path is established for every child and that the right opportunities are given to children to ensure a fair start in life.
How can the community lend a hand to PathFinders’ goal?
Hong Kong greatly relies on MDWs to take care of our families – especially children and the elderly. As employers of MDWs, we can start by appreciating their contribution to our families. There are simple ways we can reciprocate by supporting many of them who are mothers. Encourage them to take breaks throughout the day to connect with their children in home countries; and continue to play an active role in supporting their children’s learning and development despite the distance.
We can also all get better informed about MDWs and their children’s struggles and needs. We need to better understand the existing legal framework and protections afforded to these individuals, while striving to influence change. Such change should not only happen in terms of policies, but also in terms of awareness and change of attitude within the wider community.
What can we do during the duration of the campaign and beyond?
The simplest and most straightforward, immediate action is to donate directly to PathFinders – which can be easily done via several payment methods and is tax-deductible. For a one-time donation of HK$2,888 directly given to the charity between 4 April and 8 May, Hugill & Ip’s Estate Planning team will write a Deed of Guardianship to protect your children. Visit the #PathGuardiansHK page throughout the campaign to engage in thought-provoking topics, like child safeguarding and stories of #WorkingMomsHK – including MDW mothers and how they connect with their children across the miles.
What is a Deed of Guardianship?
It is a legal document allowing parents of a minor to appoint other family members, friends or other associates to act as the (permanent or temporary) legal guardians for their child(ren) in the event of their death. The Deed of Guardianship can cover existing and future children.
We generally advice keeping the Deed of Guardianship as a separate document from other estate planning tools – e.g. a Will – as the guardianship appointment should be separate from the probate which attaches a detailed list of assets and liabilities. The Deed of Guardianship will be required when guardians are required to prove their appointment, therefore it will likely be retained by other parties providing services to the children, such as schools or medical service providers.
What are the main responsibilities of a permanent guardian?
A person appointed as the guardian of a minor will automatically assume guardianship over the minor upon the death of the appointing parent (or appointing guardian) who has custody of the child before death, providing that there is no other surviving parent or guardian. A person appointed as a guardian may, after the appointor(s) dies, apply to the Court to assume guardianship over the minor.
Can I appoint temporary guardians?
You should appoint a temporary guardian when the permanent guardian resides overseas. The temporary guardian can bring the child(ren) to the permanent guardian(s), and they can prove their relationship with the child(ren) when crossing the border.
If it is intended that the permanent guardian(s) will come to Hong Kong, the child(ren) can be looked after by the temporary guardians while waiting for the arrival of the permanent guardians. This can eliminate the risk of the child(ren) being sent to a home by the authorities.
How does this campaign fit Hugill & Ip community service drive?
As a boutique law firm we have enhanced our involvement in pro-bono activities related to core areas of our practice – mainly employment, discrimination, contentious estates, divorce and children matters. Particularly, we wish to send a message to many medium and small organisations that community service doesn’t always need to be driven by large outfits with hundreds of employees or big charitable donation budgets: we can all do our part – however small it is – in giving our time and expertise in helping others.
We, at Hugill & Ip, encourage many of our young talents to allocate their time and passion to giving back to the community.
The article was originally published on Asia Law Portal