Inheritance in Russia

Inheritance in Russia

Updated on Friday 09th September 2022

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The main function of the Russian laws on inheritance is social justice and one of the laws' most important purposes is to look after the family members who can not do it themselves. When a Russian citizen dies, 50% of his/her estate goes to the children or parents of the deceased. In case there is no lawful heir, the estate is passed to the Russian Government as the fortune is declared heirless. If you find yourself in a difficult inheritance situation, you can feel free to seek counsel from our lawyers in Russia
With a vast experience in civil law matters, our Russian lawyers can guide those seeking to obtain their rights to inheritance in this country. Plus, you can ask for the services of our immigration lawyers in Russia.


Laws related to inheritance in Russia


When discussing inheritance cases in Russia, both local and foreign citizens must know that this matter is governed by the following set of laws:
  •    the Civil Code and the Civil Procedure Code provide for the general aspects of inheritance in Russia;
  •    the Succession Law provides for the categories of heirs of a deceased person in Russia;
  •   the Russian Legislation on the Notarial System which provides for the drafting and authentication of wills by public notaries;
  •   other international laws and court orders related to an inheritance which can be recognized in Russia.


The inheritance legislation is quite straight forward, however, when dealing which such a case it is best to request the legal services of a Russian law firm, especially if you are a foreign citizen inheriting assets in this country.

The Law of Succession in Russia

Under the Russian Inheritance Law, succession is the order in which an estate is divided among the heirs of a deceased person. Their heirs are divided into 4 large categories:
  1.           the first category comprises the spouse, the children and the parents of the deceased person;
  2.           the second category comprises the siblings (including half brothers and sisters) and grandparents;
  3.           the third category comprises more distant relatives of the deceased, such as aunts and uncles;
  4.       the fourth category comprises the most distant relatives, among which stepchildren and parents and other dependents.


It is important to take note that intestate succession is possible if the deceased has passed away without leaving a will. The Russian Inheritance Law also provides for certain persons who can claim pension rights, if the deceased was retired. Our lawyers can offer more information on this aspect.
Another aspect to consider is that when no dispute between the heirs arises, the distribution of the inherited assets between them will be handled by a public notary in Russia, in accordance with the law mentioned above.
Our attorneys in Russia can help local and foreign citizens interested in drafting a will related to their estate in this country.

Courts dealing with inheritance in Russia

General jurisdiction courts can resolve inheritance issues. The case shall be opened in the deceased's place of residence (when this information is available), except for when that location is outside Russia; in which situation the case must be opened where the immovable property is situated. 
In case of an amiable case, the court does not have to get involved and thus, it can be carried out by a notary who can issue the deeds for the right of inheritance
The inheritance has to be accepted within the first six months after the succession has been opened. The acceptance of an inheritance can be done by a representative in the Russian Federation if the heir is a foreigner. Our law firm in Russia can offer advice on these matters and find a convenient way to deal with your case in order to ensure that your interests are being looked after.

Conditions for opening an inheritance in Russia

No matter if the deceased was a Russian or foreign citizen owning assets in Russia, the Inheritance Law provides for several conditions upon its distribution. First of all, where a will was drafted, the document will be opened after the testator has passed away. The will can be opened the day the testator has passed away.
With respect to the place of opening the inheritance, there are a few aspects to consider. If the deceased has left specific instructions, these must be respected. If not, the inheritance will be opened at the estate of the deceased.
Those interested in immigration to Russia can get in touch with us.

Creating a will in Russia

Most of the times, the inheritance of a testator is left by will. However, to create a will, the persons leaving the assets as inheritance must respect a few requirements, as imposed by the law. These are:
  1.  the testator must be in full mental capacity when drafting the will, also the will must be drafted in person (no representatives are accepted by the Russian law);
  2.  the testator is allowed to leave his or her estate to persons or even companies in Russia or abroad;
  3.  the will must be created by a single person, meaning that spouses cannot leave a joint will in Russia;
  4.  the testator has the right to appoint one or more heirs to their estate, or can leave the estate to other third unrelated parties;
  5.  if a property is left to two heirs and no specific provisions have been made in this sense, the property will be divided equally between the parties;
  6.  upon the opening of the will, the heirs will inherit both the rights and obligations attached to the inherited properties.
Our Russian lawyers can help foreign citizens who own assets in this country and want to create wills. You can also ask our immigration lawyers in Russia for assistance in relocation.

Inheritance Law and wills’ rules in the Russian Federation

The inheritance law states that the properties should be distributed between the heirs of the deceased in the following way:
  •  to the children, parents, and spouse equally (grandchildren in the case of the death of the children);
  •  if there are no heirs in the first line, then it has to go to the brothers, sisters, and grandparents of the deceased equally.
The law states that a notary is needed for certifying a will; in exceptional cases, in the absence of a notary, two witnesses are required. The latter case may take the whole process to court, as the validity of the will would be questioned. For further information about wills or Inheritance Law, do not hesitate to ask our Russian attorneys for advice.

Acceptance of inheritance in Russia

In order to accept an inheritance, a foreign or Russian citizen must file an application of acceptance of inheritance with the notary in charge of the distribution of the assets. The notary is usually the one who prepared the will, or the one who acknowledged the death of the testator.
The notary will issue a certificate which will be taken by the heir or heirs to the Land Register where the change in the property title will be made.
Those who have inherited goods or properties in Russia and have not accepted them within 6 months must file a request with a Russian court which will dispose the reinstatement of the inheritance only on the grounds of good reasons.

Foreigners and the Inheritance Law and taxes

In the Russian Federation, in inheritance matters, part 3 of the Civil Code is the applicable law. Foreigners face no restrictions as the rules on inheritance and wills are the same for both foreign citizens and Russians.
There are no taxes on inherited properties. This applies regardless of the individual's residency status.
For further details or assistance in inheritance issues, you can contact our Russian lawyers. Also, talk to us about immigration to Russia if interested in this topic.