Succession law

What is succession law?

Succession law is a branch of law that regulates how a person’s property is transferred after their death. It covers the transfer of property as well as debts and liabilities. Inheritance issues can be very complex and emotional, especially when the successors are at odds with each other. Successors may derive from a will or from the law. It is important to consult an attorney who specialises in succession law to ensure a fair and legally correct transfer of assets.

We deal with the following succession law matters:

1. Drawing up a will or a succession contract

We can help you draw up a will or a succession contract, choose the type of will and explain the legal consequences of testate succession. We help clients to create a legally binding document according to their wishes and needs. First, we identify the assets making up the client’s estate and the applicable legal framework. We then prepare the will or succession contract according to the client’s wishes and ensure that it meets all legal requirements. In addition, we can assist with matters relating to the administration and division of the estate and represent the client in succession disputes in court. Our aim is to help clients ensure the smooth and legal transfer of their assets to their chosen successors and avoid potential disputes and problems during the succession process.

What is a will?

A will is a document that allows a person to determine what happens to their assets after their death. A will may specify to whom and to what extent the estate will go and what conditions have to be met to receive it. A will can also be used to determine who can be a guardian for children under 18 or who should take responsibility for managing a person’s assets in the event that their mental health deteriorates. For a will to be valid, it must meet the applicable legal requirements and be made voluntarily and with a full understanding of what the will contains.

A will can be domestic or notarial. It may be reciprocal between spouses or it may impose certain obligations on the successor. Since there are several ways to make a will, it is important to be aware of them in order to achieve the desired result in the division of property.

An attorney can also assist the successor if the successor suspects that the will is falsified or does not correspond to the actual intent of the bequeather.

What is a succession contract and how does it differ from a will?

A succession contract is a contract between two or more persons to determine their mutual rights upon succession. Unlike a will, a succession contract allows the estate to be transferred or the right of succession to be exercised already at the time when the contract is signed and thereby helps to ensure that the estate is transferred in the desired way even before the death of the contracting parties. A succession contract also applies to estate that may arise in the future (for example, while the bequeather is still alive). A succession contract has to be notarised.

2. Succession proceedings

We offer advice on succession proceedings. Succession proceedings can be a complex and emotionally difficult process, especially when there are disagreements between family or other successors. Our attorneys specialise in succession law and help clients understand the laws and procedures involved in succession proceedings and ensure that their clients can protect their rights and interests. During a consultation with our attorney, the successor will get an overview of the legal aspects of the succession proceedings, including the taxes and costs involved.

Inventory of the estate

If the successors are not aware of the extent of the obligations received by accepting succession (whether the debt burden exceeds the value of the estate), an inventory of the estate should be made. After the inventory, the liability of an successor for the obligations related to the estate will be limited to the value of the estate. We will help carry out the inventory of the estate.

Revocation of a will or cancellation of a succession contract

A will can be revoked or a succession contract cancelled on various occasions under the Estonian law. This can be done if the testator or the successors were not competent at the time it was drawn up; if fraud, violence or threats were used to prepare the contract or will; or if a term or condition of the contract or will is contrary to law or good practice.

A written application to cancel a succession contract or revoke a will has to be submitted to the court (or notary). The application must contain a clear request and reasoning for the cancellation of the contract or revocation of the will.

Once a succession contract is cancelled or a will is revoked, it is deemed invalid from the moment of its preparation. When a succession contract is cancelled, the assets must be divided between the successors in accordance with the law. When a will is revoked, the revoked will is no longer taken into account when dividing the assets.

We are ready to advise our clients on cancellation and revocation matters, to give appropriate legal advice and to represent clients in court proceedings, if necessary.

Is there inheritance tax in Estonia?

There is no inheritance tax in Estonia, but a state fee must be paid to begin inheritance proceedings to determine the successors. Costs such as notary fees, court costs and a fee for the approval of a succession application may also arise during the proceedings. These costs depend on the complexity and duration of the succession proceedings.

3. Division of the estate between co-successors

We help clients communicate with co-successors in the event of disputes over the division of the estate and represent clients in court, if necessary.

If several successors have accepted succession, the estate belongs to them jointly. This means that both the estate and the related rights and obligations belong to all co-successors jointly. When successors want to dispose of individual items, the consent of all the co-successors is required.

It is reasonable to divide the estate in such case. When the estate is divided, it is determined which items or shares of items and which rights and obligations forming part of the estate transfer to each co-successor. The estate is divided among the successors according to their shares in the estate, based on the usual value of the items making up the estate at the time of division.

See the inheritance advice prepared by the attorneys at LMP Law Firm HERE.

If you can’t find your concern or question on the list, call us on 7 300 400 or write to info@lmp.ee and together we will find a solution to your concern.