Is it possible for a foreigner to receive an inheritance in Ukraine remotely?

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Receiving inheritance in Ukraine. Legal advice
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A foreigner, just like a Ukrainian citizen, has the right to inherit property left after a decedent's passing. The principles of inheritance are uniformly applied to both foreigners and Ukrainian nationals. However, there are specific features and potential challenges that foreigners might encounter during the inheritance process:

  1. Often, a foreigner may not personally visit Ukraine. Thus, all legal actions on their behalf in Ukraine are typically carried out through appointed representatives under a power of attorney. This power of attorney must be notarially verified, apostilled (or legalized), and must grant the necessary authorities, including the rights to transfer property ownership, pay taxes, and other related actions.
  2. A foreign national must obtain an identification code for inheritance purposes in Ukraine, even if they previously had no ties to the country.
  3. Regardless of their relation to the deceased, foreigners are subject to taxation during the inheritance process. An exception exists for foreigners who are permanent residents in Ukraine, as they are regarded as Ukrainian residents for tax purposes.
  4. While a foreigner can inherit agricultural land, they must relinquish it within one year.
  5. It's crucial to meticulously verify all documents. The documentation issued in Ukraine and other countries might have discrepancies, potentially leading to conflicts between the information in the will and the foreigner's identification code. Such cases may necessitate complex legal procedures.

To prevent misunderstandings and address all issues associated with inheritance by foreigners in Ukraine, it's advisable to seek advice from a qualified lawyer before initiating the process. With over a decade of experience, we're prepared to offer you professional support and assist in the inheritance process, regardless of your location.

Our team efficiently resolves even intricate inheritance matters remotely through the power of attorney. We constantly support our clients at each step of the procedure, recognizing that Ukraine may be unfamiliar territory for foreigners and that a trustworthy and responsible partner is essential for assurance and successful resolution. You can rest assured that entrusting your affairs to us is a sound decision!

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The Inheritance Process in Ukraine for Foreigners: A Brief Checklist for a Foreign National

The inheritance process for foreigners in Ukraine mirrors that of Ukrainian citizens. This involves completing essential steps within six months from the estate's opening date (the date of the testator's death). Inheritance can proceed either according to the law or as specified in a will.

Here is a brief checklist for foreign nationals embarking on the inheritance process in Ukraine:

  1. Assess your specific situation and understand its key components.
  2. Prepare for the inheritance process. Identify and locate all necessary documents required for the inheritance, or determine where the original documents are and whether it's possible to acquire them.
  3. Seek advice from a qualified lawyer for guidance on the inheritance process, timelines, and associated risks.
  4. Collect all necessary documentation, submit it to a notary, and initiate the inheritance process.
  5. Fulfill tax obligations and arrange for the transfer of ownership rights for the inherited assets.

This procedure can be daunting for individuals from other countries. Hence, our team is prepared to offer our professional assistance. Should you require help, we invite you to consult with us or entrust our specialists with managing your inheritance case.

Timeframes and Procedures for a Foreigner to Initiate an Inheritance Case, and Steps to Take if Deadlines are Missed

The process for a foreigner to open an inheritance case in Ukraine is similar to that for Ukrainian citizens. It involves gathering a suite of documents and submitting them to a notary. The inheritance case is opened at the location of the first submitted application.

Applications are usually made at the last residence of the deceased or where most of the estate is located. Thus, if you haven't opened an inheritance case yet, you can select an appropriate notary. If the case has already been opened, you should approach the notary who has initiated it.

Notaries assess their work risks and might refuse service. We encountered a situation where we managed an inheritance case with a foreign element and agreed with a private notary for the proceedings. However, the notary withdrew due to personal reasons while the documents were en route, leading us to negotiate with another notary.

Our legal team manages all these processes, relieving clients from the hassle of dealing with notaries and other parties involved in the inheritance process.

The standard period for accepting an inheritance is six months, applicable to both foreigners and Ukrainians. Although there are exceptions, it's usually best to aim for this six-month period. If the deadline is missed, it must be reinstated through legal action.

This involves finding justifications for missed deadlines and preparing for a court case. Courts may consider factors such as the heir's absence from Ukraine at the time of the inheritance opening or other objective circumstances that prevented the heir from accepting the inheritance.

Documents a Foreigner Needs to Prepare for Inheriting in Ukraine

Typically, a foreigner requires the following documents for inheritance:

  1. Inheritance Acceptance Application: This needs to be notarially attested and either apostilled or legalized, especially if you are outside Ukraine.
  2. Passport Copy and Identification Code of the Heir: For non-residents, it’s prudent to have a notarially certified copy of your passport, complete with an apostille or legalization.
  3. Death Certificate of the Deceased: If the deceased was a non-resident and passed away in another country, the same requirements of notarial attestation and apostille or legalization apply to this document.
  4. Documents Proving Relationship to the Deceased: These might include a birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc., to establish kinship.
  5. The Will, if one was made (original document).
  6. Power of Attorney, notarially certified and apostilled (or legalized), if issued abroad.

Additional documents may be needed depending on the specific case. For example, if a grandchild is the inheritor, documents proving the kinship with the previous order heir and the decedent are required.

Each case is unique; therefore, consulting with a legal expert before beginning the inheritance process is advisable to ensure all necessary documentation is in order and to understand the specific procedures involved.

Potential Issues in Inheritance and How to Address Them

Inheriting, especially with an international component, can be fraught with various challenges and considerations that need to be addressed from the start. For example, one of our clients lost her passport and had to have it reissued for the inheritance process. Another client faced discrepancies in the deceased's name due to procedural errors in document preparation, requiring us to standardize the name across all documents. Some heirs might lack the necessary legal documents for the property, which can be attempted to be rectified during the inheritance process.

However, inheritance challenges can generally be categorized into the following groups:

  • Issues stemming from the absence or errors in documents. Typically, these problems are resolvable.
  • Complications arising due to third parties' actions, for instance, claims to the inheritance from individuals whose existence you were previously unaware of.
  • The presence of debts owed by the decedent, which will be inherited and about which you were unaware.
  • The existence of a will favoring a third party, about which you did not know.
  • The presence of heirs entitled to a compulsory portion of the inheritance, which was also unknown to you.

And there are many other potential issues. Hence, if you're considering inheriting property, it's essential to seek legal advice beforehand. There may be situations where the inheritance process ends up being more costly than the value of the assets received.

Our legal experts will:

  • Proactively analyze tax rates applicable to your case and propose potential tax optimization strategies if feasible.
  • Offer support throughout the inheritance process in Ukraine.
  • Coordinate visits to the notary, handle document translations, and manage other technical aspects of the procedure in Ukraine.
  • Assist in the legal transfer of property ownership as part of the inheritance.

Our team of lawyers is always here to support you, ready to offer necessary legal assistance, even in complex inheritance matters.

See our inheritance service fees in Ukraine here.

Check out additional services for non-residents here.

Publication date: 08/11/2023

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