Robert Kemkers, Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Author: Robert Kemkers,
Translated by Jos Deuling,
Let me iron out a frequent misunderstanding: if you have to deal with the inheritance where Hungarian property is involved, it is in principle always
necessary to let a notary in Hungary handle the Hungarian part of the estate. A certificate of inheritance from a Dutch or Belgian notary or a will
is not enough!
In dealing with the legacy of someone who owns (or who is residing) in Hungary, the Hungarian authorities come into play; it may even be that the
Hungarian inheritance right applies. The latter is the case if the deceased has not prepared a will and has been living in Hungary for at least five
years (i.e. staying there for most of the time). In the limited space of this article, I can only discuss the main lines and must omit certain
nuances and exceptions.
The main rule is that a foreign will is valid in Hungary, provided it meets the legal requirements and that you have the nationality of that country,
or you are living (or have lived) there for a long time. However, in this case, a Hungarian notary will have to make sure the will doesn't conflict
with the Dutch (or Belgian) and Hungarian law. In any case, both the death certificate (extract) as well as the will have to be translated by the
official translation agency OFFI. All heirs must come to the notary, or be represented by a Hungarian attorney or submit a written response. The
first step in the procedure is to make an inventory (and valuation) of the inheritance. The town hall of the Hungarian residence or domicile of the
deceased will initiate this action.
If the deceased didn’t have a valid will and didn’t have his principal residence in Hungary for more than five years, inheritance right of the
nationality of the deceased is in principle valid. In this case, the Hungarian notary has to find out how it works, who the heirs are and in some
cases has to assess if there are conflicts with Hungarian law. If the deceased lived in Hungary for more than five years (and was registered), and
didn’t leave a will, then the inheritance is handled according to the Hungarian law of succession. Since March 15, 2014, it resembles the Dutch and
Belgian law, but there are still important differences. In short, it means that the surviving spouse inherits the usufruct or a child part, just like
the children of the deceased. In principle, a civil partnership is not valid, and the partner of the deceased has to pay death duties; Therefore
don’t assume that you are the heir if you are not married but have a civil partnership! The surviving spouse receives a so-called perpetual usufruct
but only on the property where they lived at the time of the death of the partner. The other heirs can't enforce a sale of the house, as long as the
spouse is still alive. Usufruct doesn’t apply to other assets anymore, and everyone inherits a child part. Not as in the Netherlands, where the
surviving spouse can have everything - except if not all heirs agree and demand their legal part. In Hungary the legal part is also valid: in
principle, children are according to the law always entitled to half of what they would receive without a will. There may always be deviations on the
scope and sequence of the heirs.
For everyone, but especially for those who live five years or more in Hungary (or intends to do so) is important to obtain information from a
Hungarian lawyer, preferably someone with whom you can communicate yourself. One can decide to draw up a Hungarian will (possibly multilingual) by a
Hungarian notary or lawyer, and register this will officially. One can regulate many issues in this will, maybe consistent with the will in your
country of origin. Of course, much depends on your personal situation, but if you or your partner dies, the inheritance will be handled significantly
faster by the Hungarian notary (a few weeks or months instead of a year or more!). A good will may prevent a lot of trouble and burden for the heirs.
- GeGe Real Estate