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Characteristic Features of Succession Law in the Baltic States, Austria and Germany. Ilze Metuzāle, Notary 09/05/2014. The Institution Competent for Handling Succession Matters. Notary – in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania Court – in Germany

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Characteristic Features of Succession Law in the Baltic States, Austria and Germany

Ilze Metuzāle, Notary

09/05/2014

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The Institution Competent for Handling Succession Matters

Notary – in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania

Court – in Germany

Notary as a representative appointed by the court – in Austria

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Law Applicable to Succession

  • The law applicable to succession depends in each country on:
  • Nationality of the deceased;
  • Habitual residence of the deceased;
  • Location of property.
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Austria – the law of the country whose citizen the deceased was at the time of death. Austrian law does not provide for exceptions; therefore persons cannot choose the law applicable to succession matters.

Germany – the law applicable to succession is the law of the country whose citizen the deceased was. However all foreigners may choose German law as the law applicable to succession regarding the immovable estate located in Germany.

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Lithuania – the law of the country of the deceased person's habitual residence at the time of death. Succession of immovable estate is determined by the law of the country where the estate is located. Lithuanian laws do not provide an opportunity to choose other applicable law.

Estonia – the law of the country of the deceased person's habitual residence at the time of death. Estonian laws provide an opportunity to choose the law applicable to succession cases. However the opportunity to choose is limited: it is possible to choose only the law of the country the deceased was a citizen of.

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Latvia - the law applicable to succession is determined by the location of the movable and immovable property in question. The law where the movable and immovable property was located in at the deceased person's time of death is applied to succession. Latvian laws do not permit any exceptions regarding this principle; this means that individuals cannot choose the law applicable to succession.

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Intestate Succession

Austria – succession takes place in categories depending on the closeness of the relationship. The spouse receives one third of the succession; the rest of the succession is split up between children in equal shares.

Germany – succession takes place in categories depending on the closeness of the relationship. The surviving spouse is only one of heirs together with children, etc., and the share to be inherited depends on the matrimonial property regimes. If the testator had lived together with his/her spouse and had co-owned common property in equal shares, and he/she has surviving children, then the surviving spouse receives half of the property (intestate succession is ¼, and another ¼ is disbursed as a one-off compensation). The remainder of the property is split up equally between children.

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Lithuania - succession takes place in categories depending on the closeness of the relationship (a total of six degrees or categories of heirs are distinguished in Lithuania). The surviving spouse inherits by operation of law or is qualified in the same category as second step heirs (if such exist). The spouse inherits ¼ of the succession together with the first step heirs provided that no more than three heirs exist excluding the spouse. If more than 3 heirs exist, the spouse inherits equal shares as other heirs. If the spouse inherits only with the second degree heirs, he/she is entitled to one half of the succession. If no first or second step heirs exist, the spouse inherits the entire succession.

Estonia – succession by categories; a total of three categories exist. If the surviving spouse lives together with the first degree intestate heirs - descending heirs - the spouse inherits the share of children, yet not less than ¼ of the succession. If the spouse inherits together with second degree heirs, he/she is entitled to one half of the succession. If no first or second degree heirs exist, the spouse inherits the entire succession.

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Latvia – succession takes place in accordance with a certain sequence based on the type of relationship and the closeness of heir categories. The surviving spouse receives the share of a child if more than three children exist; in case of four or more children - at least ¼ of the succession. If the testator does not have any descending heirs, the spouse receives one half of the succession and the apartment furnishings. If the testator has neither descending, adopted, ascending heirs, or siblings or their children, or if the surviving ones are renounced, then the surviving spouse inherits everything.

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Testate Succession

  • Austria:
  • Public or authentic wills drafted by a notary or a court;
  • Holographic wills written and signed by the testator him/herself;
  • Written wills which might not be written by the testator's hand, yet are signed by the testator in the presence of three witnesses.
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Germany:

  • Public or authentic wills drafted and certified by a notary;
  • Holographic wills written and signed by the testator him/herself;
  • Wills written by one's hand which may be deposited at the court upon testator's request.
  • The option of joint willsexists; this option is reserved for married couples or same sex partners in officially registered relationships.
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Lithuania:

  • Public or authentic wills drafted and certified by a notary;
  • 2) Holographic wills written and signed by the testator him/herself.
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Estonia:

  • Public or authentic wills drafted and certified by a notary;
  • Wills executed by testators and are deposited at a notary's office;
  • Holographic wills written and signed by the testator him/herself;
  • Wills which might not be written by the testator's hand, yet are signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses.
  • The last two types of wills are valid only for six months after executing them, provided that the testator is still alive. Testators must execute new wills after this period. Public wills and wills deposited with the court do not have an expiry date.
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Latvia:

  • Authentic or public wills certified by a notary or custody court (residents who reside in the jurisdiction territory of the custody court where no notaries practice);
  • Wills executed by the testator and deposited at a notary's office or custody court;
  • Holographic (private) wills which must be completely written and signed by the testator;
  • Hand-written or printed wills executed in the presence of two witnesses - this type ofwillswill be deleted from the Civil Law of the Republic of Latvia as of 1 July 2014.
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Becoming an Heir

Austria - court orders are necessary in order to give succession to heirs; court orders are issued after completing a special procedure. The procedure is carried out by a notary on behalf of the court. The court whose jurisdiction is the deceased person's area of residence launches a succession procedure upon the receipt of a notification of a person's death. The succession process is handled by a notary acting in the capacity of the court's representative, and he/she acts on behalf of the court. The succession process is completed by issuing a court order.

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Germany - if the succession matter falls under the jurisdiction of German courts, both - notarially executed wills and wills deposited with the court are opened and read without the heir's initiative upon the testator's death. If the heir wishes to decline the succession, he/she must decline it officially otherwise it is considered that the heir has accepted the succession. The deadline for declining successions is six weeks after the testator's death; in case the testator's last habitual residence was abroad the deadline is six months.

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Lithuania - in order to receivesuccessionheirs must submit succession claims regarding the acceptance of a succession, ortheymuststart managing the property to be inherited. The deadline for accepting successions is three months from the moment of opening the succession. If the heir misses the deadline for accepting the succession, he/she must turn to the court by means of requesting to extend the period for accepting the succession.

Estonia – in order to receivesuccessionheirs must submit succession claims regarding the acceptance of a succession. If the heir wishes to decline the succession, he/she must decline it officially otherwise it is considered that the heir has accepted the succession. The deadline for declining successions is three months after the heir finds out about the testator's death.

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Latvia – in order to receive a succession heirs must submit succession claims regarding the acceptance of a succession to a notary. The succession matter is handled by a notary who practices in the district court of the testator's last declared habitual residence; if the last habitual residence is unknown, the case must be launched according to location of the inheritable property or its main part. The deadline for accepting successions is one year after the testator's death however the notary may announce a shorter application period upon the request of the interested persons. It must not be shorter than three months from the publishing date of the summons. Announcing takes place through the official newspaper "Latvijas Vēstnesis".