Frequently Asked Questions about Inheritance and Succession: Lawyer's Answers

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Both citizens of Ukraine and foreigners quite often contact our company with requests for assistance in formalizing inheritance in Kyiv. In this publication we have gathered the most frequent and interesting questions about the inheritance law matters.

If you have not found the answer to your question, please call our specialists. We can consult you and help to solve your problem.

You may also like: Practice Of Formalizing Inheritance For A Foreigner In Ukraine

What is the order of succession? 

The order of succession is determined by Articles 1261-1265 of the Civil Code. According to the law, there are five priority legal heirs applicable in the absence of a will.

Characteristically, each sequent turn has the right to inherit only in the absence of persons from the previous turn. That is, the second priority legal heirs may claim for succession only in the absence of the first priority legal heirs, and so on. 

But what to do when you don’t know about the previous turn of heirs and they did not appear in time to accept the inheritance? They can begin to defend in court their right of first priority to inheritance.

Our lawyers have repeatedly had to make efforts to put forward arguments in court, because in the case of appeal of the right of inheritance - everything will depend on the decision of the court. 

We can offer you legal assessment of your situation, prepare a claim and represent your interests in court. If you are a defendant, we will build a defensive position and represent your interests.

If the case has not yet reached the court and you want to solve the issue in a pretrial procedure - we will tell you about the prospects for a settlement agreement and take care of its documentary registration.

What is the inheritance division procedure? 

The inheritance is divided only in the absence of a will. But even if there is a will, there are exceptions - persons who cannot be deprived of the right to inherit. These are underage and minor children of the testator, his/her widow/widower, disabled parents, and adult disabled children. Regardless of the presence or absence of a will, the above persons have the right to inherit.

However, if there was a will and these persons were not included in it, they are entitled to only half of the share that they would have received if they had inherited by law. As for the distribution of inheritance by law, according to part 1 of Article 1267 of the Civil Code of Ukraine, the share of the legal heirs shall be equally divided. 

This may raise the following question, How can you be sure of the equality of shares and whether there are any property of which you have no idea? The notary is unlikely to be able to help in this matter, because you need to provide the notary with an assessment of property and ready-made information to certify the fact of acceptance of the inheritance. In this case you should consult with a lawyer and get the necessary answers.

What is the procedure of the acceptance of inheritance, if the heir legally resides with the testator?

The rule of the so-called actual acceptance of inheritance may come into force in this case. According to Part 3 of Article 1268 of the Civil Code, the heir who permanently lived with the testator at the time of his/her death and did not refuse inheritance within six months after the inheritance opening shall be deemed as having accepted the inheritance. But not everything is so simple. The actual acceptance can take place only under the following set of conditions:

  • In the absence of a will, according to which the property is bequeathed to other persons;

  • In the absence of other heirs who have declared their right to inherit.

In addition, the concept of permanent residence at the time of the testator’s death can be interpreted differently. As a general rule, the place of residence is the place of registration. That is, if the testator and the heir were registered together and lived together, there are no questions. But if their places of registration are different - the fact of permanent residence at the time of death must still be proved.

This can be done in the court, or you can apply to a notary for acceptance of inheritance without waiting for the recognition of cohabitation. We can help you assess your chances in both cases.

Note: If you live with the testator, take care of him/her, and he/she wants to transfer his/her property to you - you can talk about making a life care contract. This will help you avoid unnecessary taxation of inherited property and reduce the time it takes to accept the property. Our lawyers can explain the details of this process to you, as well as take care of the execution of the contract.

What rights to inheritance does the common-law wife/husband have? 

Article 74 of the Family Code establishes the right of common-law partners for common joint ownership of property acquired during cohabitation. Another thing is how to prove in practice the moment when cohabitation began and what exactly was acquired during this period? This is especially true when the family “period” amounts to a few years and there are no common children.

According to the Civil Code, by definition, “cohabitants” only fall under the fourth line of inheritance, and on the condition of living together as a family for more than five years. Thus, a common-law wife/husband, according to the Civil Code, has the right to inherit under two conditions:

  1. If there are no heirs from the three previous turns;

  2. If you can prove the fact of living together as a family for five years or more at the time of the testator’s death.

As a rule, the most problems arise with proving the fact of living as a family.

You may also like: Succession By A Will And Without A Will

What rights to inheritance does the guardian have? 

The guardian, as such, does not belong to any of the lines of succession. The situation can develop in several ways:

  • If the guardian is a relative of the testator, then he/she can come into an inheritance as a relative, according to the order of succession.

  • If the guardian was appointed by the state, and he/she is not a relative of the testator, the norm on the fourth order of succession may be applied - a person who lived as one family with the testator for at least five years at the time of the testator's death (provided that there are no relatives from previous lines, and in fact - no blood relatives).

  • If they didn’t live as one family or lived as one family for less than five years, and the guardian is not a relative of the testator, then there is no legal chance of inheritance.

What is the procedure for inheriting a bank account? 

Article 1228 of the Civil Code provides for the right of the depositor to transfer his/her deposit to inheritance by making a will. But even if there was no will, the right of the heirs to the testator’s deposit is part of the inheritance.

The frequently asked question is whether the interest on the deposit stops growing after the depositor’s death. The answer is no, the interest shall not cease to grow, because the testator receives the entire scope of rights and obligations on the deposit. So if the bank wrongfully stopped charging interest after the depositor’s death, considering that the contract with him/her was terminated due to his/her death, you can easily appeal against such actions of the bank employees. 

Our lawyers will help to assess your chances to win a disputable situation in case of the inheritance by law, will pick up the evidence and arguments, which better play in your favor in court, will provide legal advice, and if necessary - will support the procedure for drawing up and certifying the will, the life care contract, inheritance contract, coming into the inheritance.

Unfortunately, we will be able to provide you only with legal advice, but not legal support, in case:

  • You plan to make a will, an inheritance contract or a life care contract outside the city of Kyiv;

  • The inheritance is opened outside the city of Kyiv;

  • A disputed inheritance (court proceedings) outside the city of Kyiv.

It is better to entrust the solution of complex issues to a lawyer.

We are ready to help you!

Contact us by mail [email protected] or by filling out the form:

Publication date: 03/06/2020
Marina Losenko

About author

Name: Marina Losenko

Position: Associate

Education: National Aviation University

Knowledge of languages: Russian, Ukrainian

Email: [email protected]

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Marina Losenko
Kuzava Vlasta
Junior lawyer
Ivanna Stefanchyshena
Assistant of the Lawyer