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Consultation for International Inheritance

International Business

We can assist with the following cases:

  • Making a will in Japan
  • Execution of a will made by foreign formality
  • Division of inherited property left by an International resident who passed away in Japan
  • Division of inherited property with a legal heir residing abroad
  • Transfer bequest in foreign countries to Japan in regard to the process of inheritance

Need Help With A Legal Problem?

We, Nagoya International Law Office, welcome cases for international inheritance predicaments and concerns. We are able to help in numerous cases, including the following:

  • I am a US citizen living in Japan. I have assets both in Japan and the US. How can I make a will in regard to these assets?
  • I am Japanese and am planning to make a will regarding my assets located outside of Japan. Is it enough if I make the will by notarized document in Japan?
  • My deceased father left a will made via a Chinese method. What should I do in order to inherit his assets?
  • My father has passed away. Since he was Korean, the inheritance procedure should follow Korean law. What should I do?
  • My mother has passed away. One of her siblings married a US citizen and has been living in the US. How can we settle the division of inherited property?
  • My mother has passed away and I am the only legal heir. I tried to close the bank account in the US, but the closure request was denied. What can I do?

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Making a Will in Japan

Resolutions

You can make a will which follows Japanese law. As well as being able to make a will which follows Japanese law, it is also possible to make a will in regard to other country’s laws if the associated embassy is enabled to do so.

Information

It is important to make your wills separately according to the locations of your assets as the executability of your wills varies depending on the formality of your will. For example, you should make a will by Japanese formality about your real estate in Japan, but by the US formality about your bank account in the US.

Our Service

We recommend making separate wills according to the locations of your assets to be easily executed. However, when you make wills, the new will supersedes the old one by Japanese inheritance law. We, Nagoya International Law Office, will arrange your several wills appropriately.

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Frequent Q&A

Q.

Is it possible for a foreign national to make a will as a notarized document in Japan?

A.

Yes, you can. You are also able to make the notarized document in English. However, since the execution of a will written in Japanese is easier than that of English in Japan, we recommend making a will in Japanese about your assets in Japan.

Q.

Is it possible to request a will made in another country’s formality?

A.

We provide services for making a will in ordinal countries’ formalities. If you request a formality which we have not experienced, we will work with a local attorney to ensure the document is valid.


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Execution of a Will Made by Foreign formality

Resolutions

When you cannot change the title of the real estate or close a bank account with the will made by foreign formality, you need to negotiate with the Legal Affairs Bureaus or financial institutions in order to execute the will.

Information

The Legal Affairs Bureau and financial institutions may not have the capacity to judge validity of the will made by foreign formality. In that case, providing an attorney’s opinion papers on validity of the will often proves to be more effective.

In addition, within Japan, if the will has not been notarized, it needs to be confirmed by the family court. The confirmation by the family court will enable a smooth transition in changing the title of real estate or closing bank accounts, although the confirmation does not have legal effect.

Our Service

We can check the validity of a will made by foreign formality.

When the will is valid, we can draft an opinion paper and negotiate with the Legal Affairs Bureau or financial institutions so you can change the title of the inherited properties.

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Frequent Q&A

Q.

Is it possible to execute a will written in a foreign language?

A.

If the will is valid according to the law, it would be executed regardless of the language. However, a translation must be attached.

Q.

What is the probate process taken of family court in Japan?

A.

In regard to Japanese law, a will by holograph document sealed in an envelope should be opened only in the family court. This process is called ‘probate’ in Japan, and is different from most foreign countries. The court opens the will and takes record in order to avoid forgery.

When the will is not sealed, the probate does not have meaning as the process is to avoid forgery by proving the document is the original.

Q.

How long does it take to go through the probate process in Japan?

A.

After applying for a probate, the court will send notice to all heirs-at-law. When all of the heirs are residing in Japan, the date will be designated approximately 1 month after the day notices are served. When the heir(s) reside in a foreign country, the date will be designated later considering the time of service.


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Division of Inherited Property Left by a International Resident who Passed Away in Japan

Resolution

In order to divide inherited property, all matters of applicable law, validity of the will, legal heirs and the process of inheritance must be considered.

Information

In Japanese law, the law of a deceased person’s nationality will be applied to the inheritance. However, laws concerning the deceased’s residence or property may change depending on varying policies.

After the applicable laws are taken into consideration, the validity of the will can be checked. If the will is valid, you can execute the will. If it is invalid, you need to research heir-at-law and statutory share according to the law.

This requires contacting heirs and negotiating the inheritance process (including termination).

Our Service

When we take cases of inheritance of International residents who resided in Japan, we research the law applied to the case.

If the will is valid according to the law, we will support you with the execution. If you do not have a valid will, we will consider legal heirs and statutory share, and start negotiation to terminate the division conference. We will support you even when heirs are in overseas.

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Frequent Q&A

Q.

If a decedent left real estate overseas, what processes are required?

A.

When you want to change the title of real estate overseas, you must follow the law of the country where the real estate is located. We will help you with finding an attorney in the country.

Q.

I have a joint account with a decedent overseas. Do we need to have a negotiation in order to inherit the account?

A.

According to a precedent, property in joint accounts is not included in a property of inheritance, and the other joint account holder can take the account alone. Therefore, you can obtain the property without any negotiation.


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Division of Inherited Property with a Legal Heir Residing Abroad

Resolution

In order to settle the inheritance negotiation, you must obtain consent from all the heirs-at-law. Therefore, if there are heirs uncooperative or their address is unknown, you may have to take measures mentioned below.

Information

To settle the negotiation for inheritance it is required to obtain consent from all the heirs-at-law. Therefore, you cannot ignore heirs residing overseas or if their address is unknown.

If there is an heir-at-law who is uncooperative and negotiation outside of the court or mediation of the family court is not successful, it may be inevitable to request for adjudication of the family court.

If there is an heir-at-law residing overseas and his/her address is unknown, the family court cannot serve notice to the person. In that case, you must request for public notification and appoint an administrator of the absentee’s property. In the requests mentioned above, you have to prove that the heir-at-law’s whereabouts are unknown. Also, when there is no correspondence with the person for a number of years, you may be able to use the system of adjudication of disappearance.

Our Service

If there is an heir-at-law who is uncooperative, a member of our law office or an affiliated local attorney will contact them to negotiate. In some cases, people change their attitude once it is known that they can obtain some property in the inheritance.

If there is an heir-at-law residing overseas and his/her address is unknown, we try to find the person via various sources such as documents held by the decedent and inquiring to related persons. When we cannot find the person, we will take measures for public notification and for appointing an administrator of the absentee’s property, and proceed the division conference.

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Frequent Q&A

Q.

How do you find out whether heirs-at-law are in Japan or reside overseas?

A.

The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau possesses records of embarkation and disembarkation. We are able to obtain the record about specific persons by inquiring via the Japanese Bar Association.

Q.

What is ‘public notification’?

A.

Public notification is the Japanese court’s service which is taken when the address for service is unknown. The court will put a notification on the board in front of the court, and it is deemed that the notice is delivered to the party. This service makes it possible to proceed the process with the person whose address is unknown.

Q.

What is the role of the administrator of absentee’s property?

A.

The administrator of absentee’s property manages the property on behalf of the absentee. The family court will appoint the administrator.

In the process of division conference, the administrator will manage the negotiation or other legal procedures on behalf of the person whose address is unknown.

Q.

What is the ‘adjudication of disappearance’?

A.

The adjudication of disappearance is the legal presumption of death without clear evidence; particularly when a person has been missing for a certain period.


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Transfer Bequest in Foreign Countries to Japan in the Process of Inheritance

Resolution

In order to transfer a bequest in foreign countries, you must prove validity of the will or his/her status as heir-at-law to the financial institutions.

In addition, you need to provide documents required by the institutions.

Information

It is difficult to close bank accounts overseas, even if you have a will made by Japanese formality and written in Japanese, you must attach a translation as well as an opinion paper about the validity of the will. Also, it may be required to settle tax related processes according to the law of the country.

If you do not have a will, you must consider the applicable laws and research heir-at-law and statutory shares.

Depending on the applied law, you may need a probate procedure to settle the inheritance. In those cases, you should request a probate procedure to the court and the court will appoint the administrator to execute the inheritance.

Our Service

Firstly, we will research the law applicable to the case. When the will is valid according to the law, we will execute the will. When the will is invalid or the decedent has not left a will, we will consider heir-at-law, statutory share, and manage a division conference in order to make an agreement of division.

In the execution, we will research requirements for closing bank accounts and for transferring money to Japan. Since financial institutions tend to hesitate in regard to transferring money to Japan, we need to negotiate with them tenaciously in many cases.

When the inheritance should be completed by the administrator of inherited property, we will appoint a local attorney for requesting an appointment to the court. Considering the processes of the administrator take time and money, we will try to avoid it.

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Frequent Q&A

Q.

Are there any cases that wills by notarized document in Japan are deemed invalid?

A.

In countries where wills made by foreign formalities are invalid, wills by notarized document in Japan will be deemed invalid.

Q.

What is the role of the administrator of inherited property?

A.

The thorough role differs depending on countries. However, the general role is to research property and the debt of the decedent, to liquidate them, and to divide the property to heirs-at-law.