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Heritage disputes associated with joint property in Russia

What you need to know about inheritance and its acceptance when it includes jointly acquired property.

This Article takes into account Russian law on division of property and inheritance, and on a practical example, reproduces possible scenarios for the division of property between spouses, in the presence of inheritance.

Hereditary disputes related to jointly acquired property are quite common in Russia.
In this article, we will analyze the case when the apartment was bought in marriage and was fully registered in the name of the spouse, who later died.

For clarity, let's take the setup data:
  • The apartment was bought in marriage and registered in the name of the deceased, now, spouse;
  • Heirs - 3 people: surviving spouse and two children;
  • No will.

The apartment will be divided as follows.
First, the notary will allocate a share of the surviving spouse, which will be exactly half of the entire apartment. So, the spouse, even before the start of determining the share of children in the apartment, will receive a certificate from the notary for 1⁄2 of the share of housing.

After that, the remaining half of the hearth will be divided equally: again into a wife and two children. Calculation (1⁄2) / 3 = 1/6 of each of the relatives. Thus, the share of the surviving spouse in the inheritance will be 4/6 of the share. Calculation: 1⁄2 +1/6, children will have the right to 1/6 of each share.

1. What is the time frame for accepting the inheritance in Russia?

The acceptance of the inheritance in Russia takes place within 6 calendar months after the opening of the inheritance. At this stage, the heirs sometimes have a misunderstanding of the procedure and they think that they need to submit an application after 6 months from the date of the relative's departure, but this is not the case. To claim their rights, the surviving spouse, as well as other heirs (children and parents of the testator) must submit an application for acceptance of the inheritance to a notary before the expiration of the six-month period. In addition, if the surviving spouse brings to the notary a certificate that at the time of her husband's death she was registered (and therefore lived) at the same address with the deceased, then this will also be considered acceptance of the inheritance. When the heir missed the six-month term, he would have to prove the validity of the missed term in court. A hereditary dispute, in this case, arises when the spouse has not applied for the inheritance for a long time and the other heirs have already managed to receive their shares.

2. Whether the ex-spouse or ex-spouse has the right to inheritance under Russian law?

The heirs of the first stage, as already mentioned, are children, spouse, and parents. The spouse's status is determined at the time of death. Even if the deceased was married several times during his lifetime, but died after being divorced, the former spouses do not have the right to inheritance. An exception is a case described above if the ex-spouse proves that the hereditary apartment was acquired during their marriage and they did not manage to divide it during the life of the husband.

Returning to the original example, the apartment would be divided as follows:

1⁄2 share of the former spouse (provided that they acquired it before the divorce)

1⁄2 share will be divided into two children, that is, 1⁄2 of 1⁄2 = 1⁄4 share for each.

If there are no children, then the remaining 1⁄2 share in the apartment will be transferred to other heirs according to the law of the first stage. And if there are none, then further in the law the queues are clearly defined. The heirs of the second stage are uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters. Then comes the third stage, etc.

3. Who can be the heir under the will and testament In Russia?

A will is a unilateral transaction reflecting the will of the testator, to whom he can bequeath property to anyone - absolutely any person. The rule on the allocation of a spouse's share by a notary also applies if there is a will to an outsider. So 1⁄2 of the share will be allocated to the spouse, and the second half of the apartment will be transferred to the heir by will.

4. Do other heirs, for example, have the right to an apartment when there is a will for only one?

Yes, the law provides for such a case - even when the testator has drawn up a will, the heirs - pensioners, including the spouse, as well as disabled and minors, have the right to a mandatory share in the inheritance. Its size is at least half of what could have been obtained without a will.

In the above example, if the wife is, at the time of her husband's death, a pensioner: the wife's share 1⁄2 + (1/2 of 1/6) = 1⁄2 + 1/12 = 7/12 shares in the apartment.

5. Can a spouse be left without inheritance if there are no wills?
Yes. The Russian law contains the concept of an "unworthy heir". An unworthy heir is one who committed a crime, beatings, deprivation of life against the testator during his lifetime, or took measures to increase his share in the inheritance. Such a spouse is deprived of the right to inheritance. He will simply be allocated his 1⁄2 share that they acquired in marriage, and the remaining half will be transferred to other heirs without a spouse.

6. Is it possible to challenge the will of the deceased spouse in court?
Yes, but it needs a reason. In our law practice, when providing legal assistance, disputes about inheritance are often encountered. As a rule, these are claims for invalidation of a will. A will can be declared invalid, for example, if the testator, when signing the will, did not understand the meaning of his actions. This can occur, as a rule, due to mental age-related changes, or a serious illness.

If you believe that the testator was incapacitated, then you will need to file a claim with the court to challenge the will. As part of the civil case, a psychiatric examination will be ordered. To go to court, we advise you to contact an English speaking Russian inheritance lawyer who will give you legal advice and provide follow-up assistance in court throughout the entire trial.
Our law firm successfully accompanies disputes on the division of jointly acquired, including inherited property.

Also we can help, if you need: 
divorce lawyer, family lawyer, paternity lawyer, paternity attorney, child support lawyer, alimony lawyer, marriage contract, property division lawyer, international marriage lawyer.

Tel: +7 909 961-19-09
Visit us: Moscow, Zubovskiy bulvar, building 4, room 308

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