SUCCESSION RIGHTS. INHERITANCE DISPUTES IN RUSSIA OVER WILL, MONEY, PROPERTY
Inheritance advice on Law of Succession, the right of succession, succession by will, lawfully executed will, superior inheritance rights, order of preference, descent and distribution of property, acquisition of inheritance, probated will, probate laws, passage of property, transfer of real property, under a will, will, inheritance disputes, dispute over will, inheritance money, compromise, mediation, share of the inheritance money. Resolving inheritance disputes, dispute over money, dispute over property, inheritance disagreements, mediator, arbitration, litigate inheritance issues, disposal of property, estate tax, transfer of the taxable estate, inheritance tax rate, transfer of property, beneficiaries, gross estate, cash inheritances, estate's heirs, heir's rights, beneficiaries' rights, determination of shares, heirs, next of kin, distributees, blood relatives, adopted children, per stirpes shares, kindred of the half blood, adoptive parents, surviving spouse, line of descent, collateral line of descent, intestate property, designated heir, rights in probate, passing of title to a decedent's property, have first preference, movable property, estate escheats, title by descent, title by purchase
The below Civil Code of the Russian Federation text on inheritance in Russia should be used for information purposes only and appropriate legal advice should be sought as and when appropriate.
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The Civil Code of the Russian Federation
Law of Succession
Chapter 64 Acquisition of Inheritance
Article 1152. Acceptance of Inheritance
1. To acquire inheritance a heir shall accept it. No acceptance is required for the acquisition of escheat property (Article 1151).
2. The acceptance of a portion of inheritance by an heir means acceptance of the whole inheritance due to him/her, whatever the nature and the whereabouts thereof. When an heir is called upon to inherit simultaneously on several grounds (by will and by operation of law or by hereditary transition and as the result of opening an inheritance etc.) the heir may accept an inheritance he is entitled to on one of these grounds, on several of them or on all of them. No acceptance of inheritance shall be stipulated by conditions or special clauses.
3. The acceptance of an inheritance by one or several heirs shall not mean an acceptance of inheritance by other heirs.
4. An accepted inheritance shall be recognised as owned by the heir from the date of opening of the inheritance, irrespective of the time of the actual acceptance and also irrespective of the time of state registration of the heir's rights to assets of estate where such a right is subject to state registration.
Article 1153. The Methods of Accepting an Inheritance
1. An inheritance is accepted by means of the heir's filing an inheritance acceptance application or an application for a certificate of the right to the inheritance with the notary or personal representative under law at the place of opening of the inheritance. If an heir's application is passed to the notary by another person or the signature of the heir is mailed on the application shall be attested by a notary, an official empowered to accomplish notarial actions (Item 7 of Article 1125) or a person empowered to attest powers of attorney in compliance with Item 3 of Article 185 of the present Code).
An inheritance can be accepted through a representative if the power of accepting an inheritance is specifically established in powers of attorney. No powers of attorney are required for a personal representative to accept an estate.
2. Until and unless the contrary is proven, an heir shall be deemed to have accepted an inheritance if he has committed actions evidencing an actual acceptance of the inheritance, in particular, if the heir: has commenced possession or administration of assets of the estate;
has taken measures for preserving assets of the estate, protecting it against third persons' encroachments or claims;
has incurred expenses on his account towards maintenance of assets of the estate;
has paid the testator's debts or received from third persons amounts of money payable to the testator.
Article 1154. The Term for Acceptance of an Inheritance
1. An inheritance can be accepted within six months after the date of opening of the inheritance. If the inheritance is opened on the date of the alleged death of a citizen (Item 1 of Article 1114) the inheritance can be accepted within six months after the date when the court decision whereby the citizen is announced dead becomes final.
2. If a right of inheritance emerges for other persons as the result of an heir's disclaimer of an inheritance or an heir's disqualification on the grounds established by Article 1117 of the present Code such person can accept the inheritance within six months after the date of occurrence of their right of inheritance.
3. Persons whose right of inheritance occurs only due to an heir's non-acceptance of an inheritance can take the inheritance within three months after the expiry of the term specified in Item 1 of the present article.
Article 1155. Acceptance of an Inheritance upon the Expiry of the Established Term
1. On the application filed late by a heir as concerning the term set for acceptance of an inheritance (Article 1154) the court may reinstate the term and recognise the heir as having accepted the inheritance if the heir did not know and was not supposed to know of the opening of the inheritance or if the heir has missed the term due to other legitimate reasons and on the condition that the heir who missed the term set for acceptance of the inheritance has filed his/her application with the court within six months after the time when the causes/reasons for the lateness ceased to exist. Having recognised an heir as having accepted an inheritance, the court shall determine the shares of all the heirs in the estate and if necessary shall designate measures for safeguarding the rights of the new heir to his/her entitlement (Item 3 of the present Article). The certificates of a right of inheritance issued earlier shall be recognised by the court as void.
2. An heir can accept an inheritance after the expiry of the term set for the acceptance thereof without resorting to the court if all the other heirs who have accepted the inheritance grant their consent thereto in writing. If such a written consent is granted by heirs in the absence of a notary, their signatures on the documents whereby the consent is granted shall be attested in the manner specified in Paragraph 2 of Item 1 of Article 1153 of the present Code. The heirs' consent shall be deemed a ground for a notary to annul the certificate of right of inheritance issued earlier and to issue a new certificate. If, under a certificate issued earlier, state registration has been accomplished in respect of a right to immovable property, the notary's decision to annul the certificate issued earlier and the new certificate shall be deemed a ground for amending the state registration records correspondingly.
3. A heir who accepts an inheritance after the expiry of the established term in keeping with the rules set out in the present article shall be entitled to take his/her entitlement in compliance with the rules of Articles 1104, 1105, 1107 and 1108 of the present Code which, in the case specified in Item 2 of the present Article, shall be applicable except as otherwise required by a written agreement concluded by the heirs.
Article 1156. The Transfer of a Right to Accept an Inheritance (Hereditary Transition)
1. If an heir called upon to inherit by will or by operation of law dies after the opening of the inheritance without having accepted it within the established term, the right of accepting his/her entitlement shall pass to his/her legal heirs, or if all assets of the estate have been left by will, to his/her heirs by will (hereditary transition). The right of accepting an inheritance by way of hereditary transition is not incorporated into the estate left after the death of such a heir.
2. The right of accepting an inheritance that belonged to a deceased heir may be exercised by his/her heirs on general terms. If the portion of the term set for the purposes of inheritance acceptance that remains after the death of an heir is less than three months, the term shall be extended to reach three months. Upon the expiry of the term set for inheritance acceptance purposes the heirs of a deceased heir may be recognised by the court as having accepted the inheritance under Article 1155 of the present Code if the court is of the opinion that the reasons for the lateness are legitimate.
3. The right of an heir to accept a portion of inheritance as a compulsory share (Article 1149) shall not be transferable to his/her heirs.
Article 1157. The Right of Disclaimer
1. The heir is entitled to disclaim the gift he is entitled to, for the benefit of other persons (Article 1158) or without an indication of a person for whose benefit he rejects his/her gift. No disclaimer shall be possible in the case of escheat.
2. The heir is entitled to disclaim the gift he is entitled to within a term set for acceptance of inheritance (Article 1154), in particular, in cases when he has already accepted the gift. If the heir has committed actions evidencing the actual acceptance of an inheritance (Item 2 of Article 1153) a court may recognise him/her as having disclaimed the inheritance on the application of such heir, in particular, after the expiry of the set term if the court finds that the reasons for the lateness are legitimate.
3. A disclaimer of an inheritance shall not be subject to alteration or reversed.
4. In the case of a minor heir, an heir lacking dispositive capacity or having a partial dispositive capacity disclaimer of an inheritance shall be admitted on a preliminary consent of the body of tutorship and guardianship.
Article 1158. Disclaimer of an Inheritance for the Benefit of Other Persons and Disclaimer of a Portion of a Gift
1. The heir is entitled to disclaim an inheritance for the benefit of other persons from among the heirs under a will or who belong to any category and who have not been refused inheritance (Item 1 Article 1119), in particular, for the benefit of those who were called upon to inherit by the right of representation or inheritance transition (Article 1156). No disclaimer shall be for the benefit of any of the above persons:
of assets inherited under a will if the whole of the decedent's estate is left by will for heirs appointed by the decedent;
of a compulsory share of an estate (Article 1149);
if an alternate heir has been appointed for the heir in question (Article 1121);
2. No disclaimer shall be for the benefit of persons who are not specified in Item 1 of the present article. No disclaimer of inheritance shall be stipulated by conditions or special clauses.
3. An heir shall not disclaim a portion of his/her gift. However, if an heir is called upon to inherit simultaneously on several grounds (by will, by law or by inheritance transition or as a result of opening of an inheritance etc.) he shall be entitled to disclaim the gift he is entitled to on one of these grounds, on several of them or on all of them.
Article 1159. Methods of Disclaimer
1. The disclaimer of an inheritance shall be effected by the heir by means of filing a disclaimer application with a notary or official empowered under law to issue certificates of inheritance at the place of opening of the inheritance.
2. If a disclaimer application is filed with a notary by a person other than the heir or if it is mailed the signature of the heir on such application shall be attested in the manner established in Paragraph 2 of Item 1 of Article 1153 of the present Code.
3. An inheritance may be disclaimed through a representative if disclaimer powers are laid down in the powers of attorney. No powers of attorney is required for a legal representative to disclaim inheritance.
Article 1160. Right of Disclaimer of a Testamentary Trust
1. The beneficiary is entitled to refuse accepting a trust (Article 1137). In this case no trust for the benefit of another person, a trust stipulated by a clause or condition is permitted.
2. If the beneficiary is at the same time an heir his/her right specified in the present article shall not depend on his/her right to accept the inheritance or disclaim it.
Article 1161. Increment of Shares of Estate
1. If an heir does not accept his/her gift, disclaims his/her gift without indicating that the disclaimer is for the benefit of another heir (Article 1158), does not have the right to inherit or if his/her right of inheritance is forfeited on the grounds established by Article 1117 of the present Code or as a result of invalidity of the will the portion of the estate to which such heir would have been entitled shall pass to the legal heirs called upon to inherit, pro rata to their shares of the estate. However, if the testator has left all property to the heirs he appointed, the portion of the estate to which an heir who disclaimed his/her gift or who was dropped on the other specified grounds was entitled shall pass to the other heirs by will pro rata to their shares of the estate, except as otherwise required by the will in respect of distribution of that portion of the estate.
2. The rules contained in Item 1 of the present article shall not be applicable if an alternate heir (Item 2 Article 1121) has been appointed for the heir who disclaimed his/her gift or who was dropped on other grounds.
Article 1162. Certificate of Right to Inheritance
1. A certificate of right to inheritance shall be issued at the place of opening of the inheritance by a notary or an official empowered by law to accomplish such a notarial action. The certificate shall be issued on the application of an heir. If heirs so wish one certificate may be issued for all the heirs or a separate certificate may be issued to each of the heirs, for the whole of the estate or for specific parts thereof.
The same procedure shall be applicable when a certificate is issued in the case of escheat in the Russian Federation (Article 1151).
2. If, after the issue of a certificate of right to inheritance, assets of the estate are discovered which are not covered by such a certificate, an additional certificate of right to inheritance shall be issued.
Article 1163. Term for Issue of a Certificate of Right to Inheritance
1. A certificate of right to inheritance shall be issued to heirs at any time upon the expiry of six months after the date of opening of the inheritance, except for the cases specified in the present Code.
2. In the case of succession both by will and by operation of law a certificate of right to inheritance may be issued before the expiry of six months after the opening of the inheritance if there is reliable information evidencing that there are no other heirs entitled to the inheritance or a portion thereof apart from the persons who have applied for the certificate.
3. The issuance of a certificate of right to inheritance shall be suspended by the decision of a court and also in the case of existence of a heir conceived but not yet born.
Article 1164. Heirs' Common Ownership
In the case of succession by operation of law if an estate passes to two or several heirs and in the case of succession by will if an estate is left by will to two or several heirs without an indication of specific assets of the estate to be taken by each of the heirs the estate shall be put into the share ownership of the heirs as of the time of opening of the inheritance.
Heirs' common ownership of assets of an estate shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 16 of the present Code on share ownership with due regard to the rules set out in Articles 1165 - 1170 of the present Code. However, in the distribution of an estate the rules of Articles 1168 - 1170 of the present Code shall be applicable within three years after the opening of the inheritance.
Article 1165. Distribution of Decedent's Estate by Agreement between Heirs
1. The assets of estate in the share ownership of two or several heirs can be divided by agreement between them. The agreement on distribution of estate shall be subject to the rules of the present Code concerning the form of deals and form of agreements.
2. An agreement on distribution of estate incorporating immovable property, in particular, an agreement on devolution of the share of one or several heirs may be concluded by heirs after a certificate of right to inheritance has been issued thereon. The state registration of heirs' ownership of immovable property being the subject matter of an agreement on distribution of estate shall be accomplished on the basis of the agreement on distribution of estate and the certificate of a right to an inheritance issued earlier and in cases when the state registration of heirs' rights to immovable property has been accomplished before the heirs entered the agreement on distribution of estate, on the basis of the agreement on distribution of estate.
3. A discrepancy between the way an estate is distributed by heirs in an agreement they concluded and the shares of the estate to which the heirs are entitled as specified in the certificate of right to inheritance shall not cause refusal of state registration of their rights to the immovable property received as the result of distribution of the estate.
Article 1166. Safeguarding the Interests of a Child in the Case of Distribution of Estate
If there is an heir who has been conceived but not yet born, distribution of an estate shall be accomplished only after the birth of such a heir.
Article 1167. Safeguarding the Lawful Interests of Minors, Citizens Lacking Dispositive Capacity or Having a Limited Dispositive Capacity in the Case of Distribution of Estate
If among the heirs there are minor citizens, citizens without dispositive capacity or having a limited dispositive capacity an estate shall be distributed in compliance with the rules of Article 37 of the present Code.
For the purpose of safeguarding the lawful interests of the said heirs the tutorship and guardianship body shall be notified of the drawing up of an agreement on distribution of estate (Article 1165) has been drawn up and of a court's hearing a case of distribution of estate.
Article 1168. Right in Rem Relating to an Indivisible Item in Cases of Distribution of Estate
1. An heir who had a right of share ownership together with the testator in respect of an indivisible item (Article 133) the share in the right of which is incorporated in the estate shall have a preferential right of obtaining as offsetting his/her share of the estate the thing that was in common ownership, over the heirs who had not been party to the common ownership before, irrespective of their having used the item or not.
2. An heir who had been permanently using an indivisible item (Article 133) incorporated in an estate shall have a preferential right of obtaining as offsetting his/her share in the estate this thing, over the heirs who had not been using the thing and had not been party to the common ownership thereof.
3. If an estate incorporates housing accommodation (residential house, apartment etc.) which cannot be physically divided, the heirs who had been residing in the housing accommodation as of the date of opening of the inheritance and who do not have other housing accommodation shall have the right to enjoy a preferential treatment, in cases of distribution of estate, over the other heirs not being owners of the housing accommodation incorporated in the estate in obtaining this housing accommodation as offsetting their shares of the estate.
Article 1169. Preferential Right to Ordinary Household Articles in Cases of Distribution of Estate
In the case of distribution of estate an heir who had been residing as of the date of opening of an inheritance together with the testator shall have a preferential right of obtaining as offsetting his/her share of the estate household articles.
Article 1170. Compensation of Mismatch between Received Assets of an Estate and the Share in the Estate
1. A mismatch between the assets of estate claimed by an heir by a preferential right under Articles 1168 or 1169 of the present Code and the heir's share of the estate shall be eliminated by means of his/her transferring other assets of the estate to other heirs or by the provision of another compensation, in particular, disbursement of the relevant amount of money.
2. Except as otherwise required by an agreement between all the heirs, the exercise of a preferential right by any of them shall be possible after the provision of a relevant compensation to other heirs.
Article 1171. Preservation of an Estate and Administration of an Estate
1. For the purpose of safeguarding the rights of heirs, beneficiaries and other persons concerned the executor of a will or the notary at the place where an inheritance is opened shall take the measures specified in Articles 1172 and 1173 of the present Code as well as other necessary measures for preservation and administration of the estate.
2. The notary shall take measures for preservation and administration of the estate on the application of one or several heirs, executor of the will, a local government body, the tutorship and guardianship body or other persons acting in the interests of preservation of the estate. If an executor of the will has been appointed (Article 1134) the notary shall take measures for preservation and administration of the estate in agreement with the executor. The executor of the will shall take measures for the preservation and administration of the estate on his own or at the request of one or several heirs.
3. For the purpose of ascertaining the subject matter of gifts and preserving it banks, other credit institutions and other legal entities shall inform the notary, at the notary's request, of the information they have concerning assets belonging to the testator. The information so obtained shall be passed by the notary only to the executor of the will and to the heirs.
4. The notary shall take measures for preservation and administration of the estate within a term set by the notary with due regard to the nature and value of the estate and also the time required for the heirs to commence owning their gifts but not exceeding six months, or in the cases specified in Items 2 and 3 of Article 1154 and Item 2 of Article 1156 of the present Code, not exceeding nine months after the opening of the inheritance. The executor of the will shall take measures for the preservation and administration of the estate within the term required for executing the will.
5. In cases when assets of the estate are located in different places, the notary at the place where the inheritance has been opened shall forward instructions on the preservation and administration of the assets of the estate to the notary at the place where the relevant portion of the assets is located, via the bodies of justice. If the notary at the place of opening of the inheritance knows who should take measures for the preservation of the estate, such instructions shall be forwarded to the relevant notary or official.
6. The procedure for preservation and administration of estate, in particular, the procedure for drawing up an inventory of the estate shall be determined by the legislation on notaries. The maximum limits on remuneration payable under an agreement of custody of estate and agreement of trust of estate shall be set by the Government of the Russian Federation.
7. In cases when a right to accomplish notarial actions is granted under law to officials of local government bodies and officials of consular institutions of the Russian Federation the necessary measures for preservation and administration of an estate can be taken by the relevant official.
Article 1172. Measures for Preservation of the Estate
1. For the purpose of preserving an estate the notary shall draw up an inventory of the estate in the presence of two witnesses qualifying under the criteria established in Item 2 of Article 1124 of the present Code. The executor of the will, heirs and in relevant cases representatives of the tutorship and guardianship body can be in attendance when an inventory of estate is being drawn up.
At the request of persons specified in Paragraph 2 of the present item, the estate shall be valuated by agreement of the heirs. If no agreement is made the estate or the portion thereof not covered by a valuation agreement shall be valuated by an independent appraiser on the account of the person who has demanded the valuation of the estate, with these expenses later being distributed among the heirs pro rata to the value of the assets of estate received by each of them.
2. Money in cash incorporated in the estate shall be deposited with the notary and foreign currency valuables, precious metals and stones, articles made from them and securities that do not require management shall be handed over to a bank into the custody thereof under an agreement in compliance with Article 921 of the present Code.
3. If the notary is aware that weapons make up a portion of the estate he shall notify the bodies of interior affairs accordingly.
4. Assets incorporated in the estate but not specified in Items 2 and 3 of the present article, if it does not require management, shall be passed by the notary under an agreement to an heir into the custody thereof, or if it cannot be passed to a heir, to another person at the notary's discretion. In the case of succession by a will whereby an executor of the will is appointed, the executor of the will shall be responsible for the custody of the said assets of estate on his own or by means of entering into a custody agreement with an heir or another person chosen at the discretion of the notary.
Article 1173. Management on Trust of the Estate
If the estate incorporates assets that require management apart from preservation (an enterprise, an interest in the authorised (aggregate) capital of a partnership or company, securities, exclusive rights etc.) the notary, acting as a trustee under Article 1026 of the present Code, shall conclude a trust agreement in respect of such assets.
In the case of succession by a will whereby an executor of the will is appointed, the rights of the trustee shall belong to the executor of the will.
Article 1174. Reimbursement of Expenses Incurred Due to the Death of the Testator and Expenses Towards Preservation and Administration of the Estate
1. The necessary expenses incurred due to the pre-death illness of the testator, decent funeral expenses, including the necessary expenses incurred as payment for the place of burial of the testator, estate preservation and administration expenses and also testamentary expenses shall be reimbursable out of the decedent's estate within the value thereof.
2. Claims for reimbursement of the expenses specified in Item 1 of the present article may be presented to heirs which have accepted their gifts and, before the acceptance of a gift, to the executor of the will or satisfied on the account of the estate. Such expenses shall be reimbursed before the repayment of debts to creditors of the testator and within the limits of value of the portion of the estate taken by each of the heirs. In such cases expenses incurred in connection with the testator's illness and funeral shall rank as first category, estate preservation and administration expenses as second category and testamentary expenses as third category.
3. Any amounts of money owned by the testator, including bank deposits and accounts, may be used to bear the testator's decent funeral expenses. The banks having in their deposits or accounts the testators' amounts of money shall provide them on the notary's decision to the person specified in the decision for the purpose of making payment towards these expenses.
An heir to whom amounts of money in the testator's deposit or any other bank account have been left by will, in particular in cases when they were left by means of testamentary instructions in a bank (Article 1128), shall be entitled at any time before the expiry of six months after the opening of the inheritance to receive from the testator's deposit or bank account amounts of money required for the funeral of the testator.
The amount of money handed out by the bank in keeping with the present item for funeral purposes to an heir or a person indicated in the notary's decision shall not exceed one hundred times the minimum monthly wage as established by the law as of the date of application for the money.
The rules of the present item shall be correspondingly applicable to other credit organisation entitled to raise citizens' funds in deposit and other accounts.
Article 1175. Heirs' Liabilities for the Testator's Debts
1. Heirs who have accepted their gift shall be liable together for the debts of the testator (Article 323). Each of the heirs shall be liable for the testator's debts within the limits of the value of the gift he/she takes.
2. An heir who has accepted his/her gift by way of hereditary transition (Article 1156) shall be liable for the testator's debts within the limits of the value of the gift and the gift shall not be collected for the debts of the heir from which he/she acquired the right to the gift.
3. Testator's creditors are entitled to present their claims to heirs who have accepted their gifts, within the statutory limitation term set for relevant claims. Until the acceptance of the gift creditors' claims may be presented to the executor of the will or the estate may be collected to satisfy the claims. In the latter case a court shall suspend considering the case until the time when the estate is distributed among the heirs or passed to the Russian Federation by way of escheat. When the testator's creditors file claims, the statutory limitation term established for relevant claims shall not be broken, suspended or reinstated.
The above Civil Code text on Inheritance in Russia should be used for information purposes only and appropriate legal advice should be sought as and when appropriate.
For legal advice on Inheritance in Russia contact Mr Maxim POLYAKOV, your Russian qualified lawyer, member of the Moscow City Bar Association, tel. +7-495-518-72-62, email firstname.lastname@example.org (English or Russian).