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Incorrect spelling of last name in a will: either court or expertise

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Issue of bilingualism in Ukraine is not only of “high” political importance but also has some ordinary aspect which nobody thinks about until a certain moment. We are talking about a situation in which spelling mistake in a will that is related to incorrect translation of last name from Russian into Ukrainian can cause inability to obtain inheritance.

The thing is that there are many cases in which mistakes are made in spelling of last, middle or first name in a will due to inattentiveness or lack of knowledge of a person who drafts it (including notaries). So as the result we have Ukrainian “e” instead of Ukrainian “ye” or instead of “ee” they write “y” or double letters are omitted. At the same time passport, birth certificate and other documents contain different spelling of full name. The difference in one letter almost always causes the situation when after inheritance occurs it is necessary to find kinship with a testator. In this way “Filipov” cannot become an heir of “Filippov” and “Volnychenko” from “Volnichenko” due to one letter difference.

At the same time notaries understand the situation of heirs perfectly but formally cannot do anything: one letter difference is a reason to deny formalization of heritage.

The issue may be solved by applying to court in order for it to confirm the fact of kinship. But in order to do so one will have to collect a significant set of confirming documents and get witnesses involved, pay court fee and spend some time because court proceeding may be lasting long.

As an alternative for court proceeding one can organize a linguistics expertise to confirm that passport data that has only one letter difference is identical (belongs to the same person) and translation difference is caused by special features of transliteration or transcription which is acceptable in some situation. Of course such expertise conclusion will not contain information about kinship but it will clearly confirm that different spelling is acceptable for a particular last name. Usually notaries accept such conclusions and formalize inheritance. In other case such conclusion will become an additional proof in court while hearing of application about confirmation of kinship.

Thus, linguistics expertise is an alternative to court proceedings and a good way to solve issues related to spelling of full name in official documents. Its main advantage is quickness (an expertise will take one or two days), fact that it is predictable and that if it is not accepted by a notary it still will be helpful in court as evidence.

The material was prepared by lawyers of Kiev law firm “Pravova Dopomoga”.

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