Wills in Bulgaria
According to Bulgarian Inheritance Act each person who has rounded 18 years and is not under full interdict due to dementia and is capable to act reasonably can dispose with his property with a will.
One of the few restrictions is that the testator can dispose through the will with the whole of his property but the testamentary dispositions in all the cases cannot infringe the reserved part. According to Art.29 of the Inheritance Act the reserved portion of descendants (including the adopted), when the legator has not left spouse, shall be: in case of one child and descendants from him – 1/2 and in case of two and more children or descendants from them – 2/3 of the possession of the legator. The reserved portion of the parents or only the outlived of them is 1/3. The reserved portion of the spouse is 1/2, when he inherits alone and 1/3 when the legator has left also parents. When the legator has left descendants and spouse, the reserved part of the spouse is equal to the reserved part of each child. In this cases the disposable part in case of one child is equal to 1/3 and in case of two children is equal to 1/4, and in case of three and more children is equal to 1/6 of the inheritance.
The will could either be a notarial one or a hand written one.
The notarial will is implemented by a Notary public in the presence of two witnesses. The testator expresses verbally his will to the Notary who writes it as it has been expressed, after which he reads the will to the testator in the presence of the witnesses. The Notary notes these formalities in the will, also marking the place and the date of compiling. Then finally the will is signed by the testator, the witnesses and the Notary public.
The hand written will must be written entirely by hand by the testator himself, contain the date, when it has been compiled and it must be signed by him. The signature must be put after the testamentary dispositions. At later date the personal hand written will, duly deposited into the Notary’s archive, can be taken back but only personally by the testator.
The will could eventually be repealed explicitly with a new will or with a Notary deed with which the testator explicitly declares that he repeals entirely or partially the previous provisions.
In case a person has not left a will after his death then the inheritance by law provisions of Bulgarian Inheritance Act should be applicable:
Art. 5. (1) The children of the deceased shall inherit equal parts.
(2) As children of the grantor shall be considered those adopted by him.
(3) At adoption under art. 62 of the Family Code the adopted and their descendants shall not inherit the relatives of the adoptive parent.
Art. 6. When the deceased has not left children or other descendants, he shall be inherited equally by his parents or by the one who is alive.
Art. 7. If the deceased has left only ascending persons of second or third degree, he shall be inherited by those of them closest in degree.
Art. 8. (1) When the deceased has left only brothers and sisters, they shall inherit him in equal parts.
(2) When the deceased has left only brothers and sisters, together with ascending persons of second and higher degree, the first shall inherit two thirds of the inheritance and the ascending persons – one third.
(3) In the cases of the previous paras consanguine and uterine brothers and sisters shall receive the half of the amount, received by born brothers and sisters.
(4) When the deceased has not left ascending of second and third degree, brothers and sisters or their descendants, he shall be inherited by the relatives of lateral line till sixth degree inclusive. The ones closer in degree and the descendant of a closer in degree relative shall exclude the more distant in degree.
Art. 9. (1) The spouse shall inherit a part equal to the part of each child.
(2) When the spouse inherits together with ascending persons or with brothers and sisters, or with their descendants, he shall receive half of the inheritance, if it is opened before the expiry of ten years after the marriage and in adverse case he shall receive 2/3 of the inheritance. When the spouse inherits together with ascending persons and with brothers and sisters or with their descendants, he shall receive one third of the inheritance in the first case and half of it in the second case.
(3) If there are no other heirs of the previous para the spouse shall receive the whole inheritance.
There are cases in which a person has left a valid and legally binding will after his death but it has not been discovered and hence - the inheritance by law provision applied. Then the will could still be enforced however after the acceptance of the inheritance by the virtue of law the heir is not obliged to satisfy the devises in it out of the value of the inheritance, or if they infringe his reserved portion.
Another common situation is when a will is left abroad. And the question that raises is: could the foreign will be enforced in Bulgaria (e.g. for properties owned in Bulgaria). It is legally possible for this will to be enforced however the procedure, compared to enforcement of a Bulgarian will, would be more expensive and difficult. Unfortunately some Bulgarian Notaries wouldn’t recognize a foreign will as a valid one – most likely because the legal provisions abroad are different and even if this very same will is legally perfect in the country where it has been written it could be invalid in Bulgaria.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emil Trifonov, Attorney at Law
Trifonov Law Offices and its solicitors, barristers and litigation lawyers offer a full range of legal services for individuals, medium corporations and small businesses. We specialize mainly in Business and Commercial Law, Company and Entity Formation, Re-registration and Reorganization (LLCs, LLPs, S-Corps, Partnerships, etc.), Real Estate and Property Law (Property Buying and Resales, etc.), Contract Review and Drafting, Conveyance as well as Litigation and Representation before all Bulgarian courts and authorities.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.