Inheritance for foreign citizens in Romania
Since 1990, questions regarding inheritance by non-Romanian citizens are becoming more common. As an international law firm in Romania we are receiving queries regarding the rules of succession from law firms outside Romania who are seeking to understand Romanian succession Law and procedure. Romanian inheritance law extends into other jurisdictions in ways that are not readily apparent.
Whether the inheritance is real estate or shares of a Romanian company or a bank account it is necessary to work with a public notary without whom the succession cannot be registered, and a certificate of inheritance issued. The Foreigner will have to go through the Romanian procedure. This article is to give a brief oversight.
Since the entry into force in Romania of the European Union Regulation no. 650/2012, a number of questions still arise as to whether its provisions apply with priority overt the provisions of the Romanian Civil Code. It should be noted that the provisions of the Regulation apply to successions to Romanian property after 17th August 2015.
The first issue is usually whether or not the foreign citizen made a will. In respect of real estate assets and bank accounts that are located in Romania, the law of lex situs will apply which is different to the succession law in many other jurisdictions. Regarding shares the Romanian law will apply if it does not contradict any conventions to which Romania is a party.
For successions after August 2015 it is important to checked whether the deceased has chosen a law applicable to his succession in a will or other testamentary document. This will enable a notary in Romania to verify if there are any foreign conflict of law rules applicable. It should be noted that in many cases even if the deceased made a will the terms of it maybe overridden by the provisions of Romanian law.
Subject to Regulation 650/2012 the question of the inheritance in Romania will in the majority of cases take place according to the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code. The questions to be answered are not simple.
What documents are necessary to open an inheritance procedure in Romania? As a general rule the necessary documents for opening the inheritance procedure are the following:
- The Death Certificate, an original or duplicate;
- The Will, if there is one;
- The marriage certificate if there is a surviving spouse;
- The birth certificates and marriages certificates of the heirs who are alive. This will be established by the notary making the necessary enquiries;
- The identity documents of the person entitled to share in the estate;
- A statement by two witnesses who knew the deceased. As a rule the witnesses have to make the statement personally before the public notary/judge. Occasionally, and depending on the circumstances the statements may be given in front of a foreign notary;
- In respect of property the title documents including any loan documents and leases;
- Fiscal certificate issued by the local Financial Administration;
- Ownership documents for any other goods including motor vehicles;
- Fiscal tax certificate, for each vehicle;
- Shareholder certificate, if any;
- Bank statements accounts;
- Concession Certificate for the burial plot;
- Purchase documents for jewellery, paintings or other goods of value.
Once the documentation has been collected and reviewed by the Notary he can open the Inheritance procedure. If the deceased was not resident in Romania, then the inheritance procedure is opened in the location where the deceased had any real estate. If there is no real estate or there are shares, then any notary can open the inheritance procedure. Once the procedure has been commenced by a notary it cannot be moved to another notary if the first notary does to agree.
It will be noted from the above that the procedure is not as simple as it may first appear. Although the notaries in Romania theoretically know the procedure for many of them an inheritance with a foreign element can cause confusion. Care must therefore be taken before choosing a notary to ascertain that they have sufficient knowledge and experience to deal with what can be a complicated matter.
Emilia Ene – Senior Associate / Nicholas Hammond – Partner