Missed deadlines for inheritance and how to renew them

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Receiving inheritance in Ukraine. Legal advice
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If you are planning to claim an inheritance, keep these key recommendations in mind:

  1. The inheritance period is 6 months from the moment the inheritance is opened. This means you need to file a statement about your rights within this period or explore options for extending the deadlines.
  2. In Ukraine, there are two ways of inheritance: by law and by will. If the previous queue or heirs by will have inherited the property, you may not be able to receive anything from the inheritance, except in cases where certain individuals have the right to a compulsory share in the inheritance.
  3. When inheriting, you inherit both rights and responsibilities, except those not included in the composition of the inheritance mass by law.
  4. You need to gather specific documents confirming the kinship with the deceased, as well as other required documents.
  5. In some cases, such as when the heir is a non-resident, you may have to pay taxes on the inherited property.

Today, we'll discuss what to do if you've missed the deadline for filing an inheritance claim. Is it possible to renew or extend them, or is the inheritance lost for you? What happens to the inheritance afterward?

Frequently, deadlines are overlooked due to the heir residing abroad, such as if they are a foreigner. A person might receive the news too late, be unable to organize a visit to Ukraine in time, or simply be unaware of the deadlines they need to meet. Our company can assist even with remotely accepting the inheritance and provide comprehensive support throughout the procedure.

Inheritance by law and by will

The inheritance process involves two primary scenarios: inheritance by will and inheritance by law. Let's delve into each, considering their crucial aspects.

1. Inheritance by will is a situation where the heir anticipates the division of their assets in their last will. Unless there are specific circumstances, a will enables the heir to pass on particular properties to individuals not included in the line of legal heirs. Naturally, the will must be created by the testator, and the heir needs to be aware of its existence. We had a client seeking to initiate an inheritance case as she believed her brother aimed to create hindrances and independently inherit all the property. However, the brother was unaware of the existence of a will favoring the client, likely resulting in an unexpected revelation for him.

2. Inheritance by law occurs when there is no will or it loses its validity, and the inheritance is regulated according to the established legal succession. In this case, there are five classes of heirs, determining who has the right to inherit:

  • The first class encompasses the children of the deceased, including those born after their death, and the surviving spouses, as well as the parents of the deceased.
  • The second queue class includes the siblings of the deceased and the grandparents from both sides—paternal and maternal.
  • The third class comprises the paternal uncles and aunts of the deceased.
  • The fourth class covers individuals who lived with the deceased in one family for at least five years before the opening of the inheritance.
  • The fifth class includes other relatives of the deceased up to the sixth degree of the relationship, encompassing closer relatives with priority over more distant ones. Dependents of the deceased, even if not family members, may also be included in the list of heirs.

If you inherit property by law, remember that each next class of heirs steps in if the previous one opts out. Heirs from the prior class can waive their inheritance, which needs to be documented.

You may also like: Frequently Asked Questions about Inheritance: Lawyer's Answers

What to do if a non-resident abroad can't file an inheritance application in time?

If an heir is a non-resident or a Ukrainian citizen but, for various reasons, can't come to file an inheritance application in person, there are two ways to address this situation:

  1. Mailing documents directly to the notary's address. This option works best when the inheritance case has already been initiated by another heir. You need to submit the necessary documents by mail to the specific notary or notarial office. The challenge lies in ensuring your documents reach the notary and that you are included in the list of heirs. Monitoring the document submission is crucial.
  2. Appointment of a representative with power of attorney. Another approach is to have a representative file the inheritance application with the notary on your behalf. This method provides a convenient and effective way to handle inheritance matters, even if you can't be physically present before the notary.

In any case, the application for inheriting property must be notarized and legalized through the appropriate channels (either consular legalization or apostille). The power of attorney for representatives must also undergo notarization and legalization according to the required procedures.

If you have missed the 6 months for accepting the inheritance or anticipate that you might miss the deadline, consider the following options:

1) Send the necessary documents by mail within the 6 months directly to the notary.

2) Initiate legal proceedings to restore the missed deadlines.

3) If you are not a first-line heir and the acceptance period depends on the exercise of rights by heirs from the previous line, you may try to argue for an additional 3 months under Part 2 of Article 1270 of the Civil Code of Ukraine.

4) Recover the missed deadline by obtaining the consent of other heirs (although this option is not guaranteed, it is a possibility).

These are just the most obvious and understandable mechanisms. Each case is unique and requires careful analysis. For instance, with one of our clients, a non-resident, the issue of opening an inheritance case and inheriting arose. However, there were certain complexities, and the timelines were very tight. We understood that the documents might not reach us on time, and a delay of just one day could be grounds for the notary to reject them. We meticulously analyzed all options and risks and were able to utilize a Cabinet of Ministers Resolution (which has since been revoked) that granted us an additional 4 months during the period of martial law. Consequently, we were able to submit the documents within the 7th month from the date of the inheritance opening.

Another client we are currently assisting faces a much more complex situation as the inheritance period has lapsed. We are currently working on restoring the deadlines through legal proceedings.

You may also like: How to Inherit Assets for a Ukrainian Citizen When They Are Abroad

Heirs of the second and subsequent classes: what are the timelines

In this case, the general 6-month period should be applied. However, according to Part 2 of Article 1270, if the inheritance depends on the acceptance or non-acceptance of the inheritance by previous queues, an additional 3-month period may be established for the following queues. Therefore, even if you are an heir of the second queue, consider these circumstances. However, our recommendation is to adhere to the 6 months in any case.

To avoid missing this deadline and complications with inheritance, we recommend entrusting the matter of inheritance to our lawyers. Our specialists will:

  • Analyze your specific situation and suggest appropriate solutions.
  • Open an inheritance case.
  • Assist with turnkey inheritance.

Don't waste time; contact us today to start the inheritance process with confidence and professionalism. Our goal is to make this process as comfortable as possible for you.

The cost of legal assistance in inheriting property in Ukraine is available here.

Publication date: 30/10/2023

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