Inheritance law in the republic of Croatia

Inheritance law in the Republic of Croatia is regulated by the Inheritance Act. All natural persons are considered equal under the same assumptions in inheritance. Foreigners are, assuming reciprocity, equal in inheritance to citizens of the Republic of Croatia. Reciprocity is presumed until proven otherwise upon the request of a person with a legal interest in the matter.

Inheritance occurs due to the death of a natural person and at the moment of their death. The person who acquires inheritance rights through their death is the heir. Every person is capable of inheriting unless otherwise specified by law. Whoever inherits a person becomes their universal legal successor.

The estate consists of everything that belonged to the deceased at the time of their death, except for what cannot be inherited due to its legal nature or by law. However, the estate does not include the share of others in joint property or what someone acquires at the time of the deceased’s death on a separate legal basis.

In the case of the death of the testator without heirs, the estate passes to the municipality, giving them the same status as if they were the heirs of the deceased.

In the event of death, the estate can be divided based on a will or by law.

Statutory inheritance

If the testator has not made a will, their children and spouse primarily inherit, all in equal parts. Children born out of wedlock and their descendants have the same inheritance rights as marital children and their descendants. The right to inherit between spouses ceases with divorce and annulment of marriage. Domestic partnerships are legally equivalent to a marital union if they last for at least three years or less if a child is born from in the union.

Testamentary inheritance

Any person capable of reasoning who is at least 16 years old can make a will.

The provisions of the will should be interpreted according to the testator’s true intention. Testators often forget that a will cannot dispose of the entire property because Croatian law recognizes so-called compulsory heirs. The right to the compulsory share is an inheritance right, and the share that belongs to each individual compulsory heir is called the compulsory share. Dispositions for the case of death that are contrary to someone’s right to the compulsory share are avoidant. The compulsory share of descendants, adopted children and their descendants, as well as the spouse is one-half, and the compulsory share of other compulsory heirs is one-third of the part that would belong to each of them according to the statutory order of inheritance.

Wills and gift contracts often lead to numerous legal disputes after the death of the testator.

Therefore, if the testator wants to completely disinherit a close person or simply wants to distribute the property differently than based on the law, and at the same time wants to ensure that there will be no disputes after their death, it is recommended to conclude one of the inheritance contracts, such as an assignment and distribution of property contract, a lifetime support contract, or a contract for support until death. In the case of concluding the above contracts, the testator, after their death, at the time of opening the probate proceedings, has no property because it has already been disposed of based on the contract.

The contract that is least used in practice but is actually the best form of regulating legal effects in the case of death is the assignment and distribution of property contract. If this contract is concluded, disputes cannot arise after death since all compulsory heirs have signed this contract. The assignment and distribution of property are valid only if the spouse, all children, and other descendants of the assignor, who are legally entitled to inherit them, agree to it.

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