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The Importance of Making a Will in Bulgaria

Quest Bulgaria frequently receives enquiries regarding inheritance and wills for foreigners who own property in Bulgaria.

In this article we provide information and advice on the importance of ensuring your assets so that they are in order in the event of a loved one's death.

A. If you live in Bulgaria and have assets both in and outside of the country and you want to protect your property and your loved ones, you should make a will, which should state all of your Bulgarian assets. It should also mention all of your assets outside of Bulgaria, but this does not mean that your non-Bulgarian property will be totally protected.

B. If you do not live in Bulgaria but do have assets in there and you want to be sure that your property will be transferred to your nearest and dearest, you should make a will in Bulgaria in which it should state all of your Bulgarian assets.

Legal base: the International Private Law in the European Community legislation states that:
• Inheritance of movable assets is regulated by the law of the country where the usual residence of the person was at the moment of his/her death.
• Inheritance of real estate's is regulated by the law of the country where those real estate's are located.

What does it mean?

It means that for real estates, there should be a will or wills prepared according to the legislation of the country where the exact real estate is located; for movable assets a will can be prepared according to the legislation of the country of the permanent stay of the person although it does not mean that this will rise to the legislation of another country. Which leads to the following advice: if a person has movable assets and real estates in more than one country, he or she should prepare a will in each country where his assets are situated as such a will should describe estates located in the particular country.

What happens with a property without a Bulgarian will?
The will consist of the following:

1. Testified instructions of the owner - when there is no will the property left by the deceased is regulated according to the Bulgarian legislation.

2. Description of the property of the specific person - without a will there are official registers and legal procedures that can provide information about all the assets.

3. Identification of all the inheritors - without a will the inheritor or inheritors can prove his or their rights over the left assets on the ground of relative connection, but it should also prove who ALL of the inheritors of the deceased are. In Bulgaria this matter is solved with the help of the official document according to which can be identified by all of the inheritors of the diseased...in case he is a Bulgarian. Such types of document cannot be issued for a foreigner which means that in this case cannot be determined persons who have the right to receive the assets of the diseased. What is different is that such document does not exist in the UK and many other countries and therefore this document can not be issued.

Unfortunately a will not made in Bulgaria also does not solve the problem because such a will can become useless if it does not meet the requirements of the Bulgarian legislation.

Of course there is also a period of limitation after expiration of which a property can be inherited even without a will. In Bulgaria this period is equal to 10 years.

So it is clear that the legislation should be amended in order of the latter to allow smoother succession. At present there is no information about some actions that would aim such amending, although there already are a lot of cases that involve Bulgarian properties left with no will by their previous owners and foreigners who are doing their best to prove their rights over those properties.

Types of wills in Bulgaria:

In Bulgaria there are two type of wills - hand written and notarial.

The notarial will is the one drawn up by a Notary Public in the presence of two witnesses, and as the notary fees are equal to the percentage of the value of the property, the preparing of such a will can be compared to the process of buying the property.

The hand written will, as it becomes clear from its name, is entirely hand written. It contains the same information as the written one, the date and signature of the testator. Although it is written in a free style there is a specific legal form that should be followed. This type of will can be changed and corrected several times, as the valid one will be considered the most recent dated.

So, our final advice is: do not hesitate to make a will in Bulgaria; the Bulgarian legislation gives each owner a chance to protect his or her property, and this chance should be used.

Article written exclusively for Quest Bulgaria by Bulgaria-Legal