Public Curator: The Importance of Wills

The Public Curator issued a strong reminder for all Papua New Guineans to have a will in place to determine ownership of properties and finances, after their loved ones die.

Public Curator, Jacob Popuna, said not having a will in place, complicates their work in identifying and distributing entitlements accordingly.


However, he also clarified that Funds in the Trust Accounts are a different case, as they belong to a group of people and not an individual.


He referred to the comments made by the Chairman of the Kinint TRP area in Jiwaka, relating to entitlements from a Timber Rights Permit investment.


In an interview with the Public Curator, Mr Popuna said the function of the Office of the Public Curator is like a stand by generator who steps in after a person dies.


By operation of law, the banks only recognize the Office of Public Curator to distribute entitlements to genuine beneficiaries, however, the issue gets complicated when there is no will in place to give a clear instruction on which the beneficiaries are.


It’s further complicated with the fact that nowadays there are double marriages, resulting in more children.


If people do not come forth to claim their entitlements, by law under the Public Curators Act, it goes back to the Finance Department’s Consolidated Revenue.


He said those who are rightfully supposed to benefit, to date have been missing out, and he urged all Papua New Guineans to have a will in place. The Office of the Public Curator will soon launch awareness on the importance of having a will in place.


Mr. Popuna said it’s a different case for monies held under a Trust Account such as the Timber Rights Permits and Royalties.


He said in scenarios such as this one, the funds belong to a group and not any individual.


Without eluding further as the matter on previous appointments of agents for the various Timber Rights Permit before the courts, Mr Popuna clarified that agents appointed by the Public Curator’s Office are mandated by law, and their work is  based on facts.


Mr Popuna was referring to recent comments by the Chairman of Kinint Timber Rights Permit area, Peter Aunang.


Mr Aunang sounded an alarm against the Office of the Public Curator after discovering that individuals were acting as his agents to claim his father's long term investments.

He claimed that certain known individuals said they were appointed by the Public Curator's Office and have been acting as agents.


The agents identified the tribes as genuine beneficiaries and reported to the Public Curator.


By law, the agents have 10% claim for their services rendered however, Mr. Aunang maintained that they will now handle their TRP Area themselves, and no other agents.

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