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About Inheritance for Expats

Concept of inheritance

- Inheritance refers to the succession of blanket rights and duties pertaining to the property of the inheritor to the inheritee from the time of the commencement of the inheritance(death date), except for the right exclusively attached to the inheritee (Article 1005 of the “Civil Act”).

※ Inheritee refers to a person who bequeathes property due to his/her death or judicial declaration of disappearance, and inheritor refers to a person who inherits property due to the death or judicial declaration of disappearance of the inheritee.

Parties eligible for inheritance

Only the inheritance of property is allowed

- Since the head of family inheritance system was abolished [partial amendment to the (former) “Civil Act” of Act No. 4199, January 13, 1990], only the inheritance of property is accepted under the current law (Article 1005 of the “Civil Act”).

Commencement of inheritance

Commenced by the death of the inheritee

- The inheritance is commenced by the death of the person (inheritee) (Article 997 of the “Civil Act”).

· The death of a person refers to the moment in time in which his/her life becomes absolutely and permanently suspended.

√ In this regard, the time of death is generally regarded as the time when breathing, pulse, and blood circulation stop.

· Apart from this, a person who is judicially declared disappeared is also considered dead and the inheritance commences.

√ The judicial declaration of disappearance refers to adjudication conducted by the family court on the application of any person interested or of a public prosecutor, if it is uncertain for five years whether an absentee is alive or dead (Article 27 (1) of the “Civil Act”).

√ The person interested or of a public prosecutor may still file an application to receive the judicial declaration of disappearance if the survival or death of a person who was on a battlefield, aboard a sunken vessel or a downed aircraft, or encountered any other peril that might be a cause of death, is not known distinctly for one year after the termination of the war, the sinking of the vessel or the crash of the aircraft, or the end of any other peril (Article 27 (2) of the "Civil Act").

Place of Commencement of Inheritance

Commenced at the place of domicile of the inheritee.

- An inheritance is commenced at the place of domicile of the inheritee (Article 998 of the “Civil Act”).

· Therefore, even if the inheritee dies in a place other than his/her place of domicile, the inheritance is commenced at his/her place of domicile.

Expenses of inheritance

Paid out of the inherited property

- Expenses for inheritance shall be paid out of the inherited property (Article 998-2 of the “Civil Act”).

· The expenses of inheritance refer to any expenses arising from the inheritance and the following falls under the category of the expenses of inheritance:

√ Management expenses of inherited property within the period of acceptance and renunciation of inheritance

√ In the event of qualified acceptance or renunciation of inheritance, the management expenses for inherited property for a certain period of time

√ Management expenses of inherited property until the partition of the property after simple acceptance

※ At this time, the management expenses of inherited property refer to the expenses objectively required for the maintenance and preservation of the inherited property, and if a lawsuit is filed against the inherited property, the expenses of the lawsuit, etc. also fall into the category.

√ Funeral expenses

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