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Money Matters

Wills / inheritance

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Wills / inheritance

Postby Quest Bulgaria » Sat 29 Jul 2006 18:17 GMT

I had a question recently from someone regarding wills and inheritance in Bulgaria. They had made a will but were unsure if it would stand up and it brought to mind that this whole thing in Bulgaria is different from the UK.

Wills and deaths and all that - horrid to talk about but this whole question of inheritance important and is so very different from the UK with many factors to consider as nobody would like to have to think about BG law at a time of someone’s death and the shock of finding everything is not all as one would like.

The following may help a bit, I hope so....

Those resident in the UK and who have bought an apartment in their individual names will probably have the easiest time as, residing in the UK and the property being in your own names will mean UK law will most likely apply.

If you have bought through setting up a BG company or are resident in Bulgaria, the whole ball game changes.

Bulgarian wills are still rare here amongst Bulgarians. Nevertheless, of course you can make a will in Bulgaria (anyone over 18 and of sound mind can do so). However, if you are resident in BG and you are trying to displace the “fair shares” of what Bulgarian law considers to be “rightful heirs” the will can be contested by the heirs you are trying avoid. Possible nightmare scenario if you are resident in BG and are a second or third time round on a marriage and hoping not to give your estate to children from a previous marriage!

Some additional comments which I hope will assist for those who have bought through the vehicle of establishing a BG company as this is a Bulgarian entity (which I can only touch on here as this is such a complicated subject and needs your own individual investigation) -

a) Resident in the UK but bought through a Bulgarian company? - yes, your will can leave your estate to whoever you wish under UK law BUT the shares of the Bulgarian company come under Bulgarian Commercial Law

b) Resident in Bulgaria and bought with a Bulgarian company? - you come under BOTH personal Bulgarian inheritance law, additionally the shares then come under Bulgarian Commercial Law


It’s always best to know all the potential situations which could arise before as I think all of us upon our own death would want to make sure our partner, children, family..... were looked after in the way we would like.

Bulgarian inheritance, if you are resident here, is based effectively on pretty much all other European inheritance systems (particularly those of France and Belgium), with the UK being the different system.

Please be careful. Best advice, as ever, is to take proper professional advice and get an independent practicing Bulgarian lawyer and talk through considering your own personal wishes and circumstances. They will help you - and a bit spent now could save a lot of heartache later.
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Postby Janet Cribb » Thu 7 Dec 2006 15:51 GMT

With respect, there is an error in the assumptions made here.
There is a distinction in law between movable and immovable assets.

A UK domiciled person (ie born in the UK) owning property in Bulgaria would require a Will made according to local rules. Immovable property is governed by the lex situs, which means the law of the land in which it is, so whilst most of the assets of a UK domiciled person would be distributed according to UK law, the Bulgarian immovable (ie stuck to the ground) assets would have to go through the probate system where it is (BUlgaria).

Most European countries have a Civil Code system and forced heirship dictated by law in that country. Generally it is safer to own through a company, the company shares being movable assets and there being no need to convey the property.

However, do take proper advice, particularly at the Bulgarian end, and seek a young, newly trained person rather than an 'old school' type lawyer. In my experience they will back off these problems as fast as they can, and ditto with your average UK high street solicitor. There are specialist firms now for this sort of stuff, do pay a bit more and use one of them. I wold recommend a member of the

It is perfectly possible to have two or three Wills if they are properly drafted, and the official line is to have a Will for each country where you own property. If you don't your family face long delays while a single Will is dragged through the probate system of several different countries
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Postby Quest Bulgaria » Mon 9 Jul 2007 11:16 GMT

So sorry, not to have been back to this sooner.

Whilst Janet says quite rightly that if you have bought through a Bulgarian company, the shares in that company are considered movable property, there is potentially a big inheritance tax situation which those living in the UK will need to consider.

As always, take professional advice!

Jain and Chris
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