大阪府外国人情報コーナー Osaka Information Service for Foreign Residents(OIS)

Death・Inheritance

[Question]What country’s law governs inheritance procedures if an international resident should die in Japan?

[Answer]
According to the Article 36 of “Act on General Rules for Application of Law,” inheritance should be executed by the law of the country of deceased. There are two opinions as to which country’s law should be applied to an inheritance involving two or more countries. One is a unified system whereby an inheritance should be executed by the law of the country of deceased regardless of the type or the location of the property. The other is a non-unified system in which heirs should inherit movable property according to the law of the deceased’s country, but real estate according to the law where the property exists. Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and Japan are of the first option and England, the United States and France adopt the second option.

The Conflict of laws refers to disparities among laws of two or more countries and, in case of inheritance, works as follows:
When the international private law of deceased’s country specifies that the law of the deceased’s resident country is applicable in an cross-country inheritance, Japanese law will be the governing law applied in the inheritance matters if the deceased’s residence is determined to be in Japan, even if the Japan law specifies otherwise.


[Question]Do I have a right to inheritance if my Japanese spouse should die in Japan?

[Answer]
Japanese Civil Code will be applicable to inheritance if a Japanese should die in Japan. According to the Civil Code, spouses of Japanese nationals, both Japanese and foreigners, have the same right to inheritance.

Inheritance division among heirs can be carried out through agreement. If agreement isn’t or cannot be reached, inheritance can be divided any which way you please. According to the Civil Code, statutory share of inheritance for surviving spouse is as follows:

1)      If there are children, surviving spouse gets one half of the property and children get the remaining half.

2)      If the deceased has no children but has parents, surviving spouse gets two thirds of the property and parents get the remaining one third.

3)      If the deceased has no children but has siblings, surviving spouse gets three fourths of the property and siblings get the remaining one fourth.

If a deceased died with a will, in principal, the division will be carried out in accordance with the will.

[Question]I want to draw up a will in Japan where I currently live. How can I validate my will and by which country’s law?

[Answer]

The “Act on Governing Laws Relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions” was enacted as a result of the ratification of the “Convention on the conflicts of laws relating to the form of testamentary dispositions,” concluded in 1961. ” According to this act, a testamentary disposition shall be valid as regards form if its form complies with the internal law:

a)  of the place where the testator made it,
b)  of a nationality possessed by the testator, either at the time when he made the will, at the time of his death,
c)  of a place in which the testator had his domicile either at the time when he made the will, or at the time of his death,
d)  of the place in which the testator had his habitual residence either at the time when he made the will, or at the time of his death,
e)  so far as immovables are concerned, of the place where they are located.

You can draw up a will in accordance with the Japanese law, which is the law of the place of an act. Under the Japanese Civil Code, the following three ways of making out a will are accepted:”Holograph Will,””Notary Deed Will” (A notary public writes down what the testator tells him in front of more than two witnesses.) and “Secrete Certificate Will.”