The material has been prepared for inheritance cases under Russian law. Pursuant to article 1224(1) of the Russian Civil Code inheritance relationships are determined according to the law of the country of the testator’s most recent place of residence.
The Russian law provides for two methods of inheritance: by operation of law and under a will. If the deceased died intestate (i.e. left no will), then his/her property is inherited under the provisions of the Russian Civil Code, in accordance with seven levels of priority for inheritance.
The list of types of property which can be inherited are shares, depositary receipts, bonds, units of investment funds and other instruments of the stock market. What should an heir do to receive securities under an inheritance procedure?
COLLECTING DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION
The following are needed to file an application to accept an inheritance:
- the original of the testator’s death certificate;
- a statement from the housing authorities on the most recent place of residence of the deceased (in Russia, this can be obtained in what is called a Multifunctional Centre, at which a range of state services are provided);
- the passport of the person seeking to receive the inheritance;
- documents confirming the relationship of the applicant with the deceased (originals);
- the original of the will (if any) with the stamp of the notary who certified such will, to denote that it has not been revoked or amended;
- general information about the securities or other financial instruments which the deceased owned as of the date of his/her death. It is useful to know the addresses and names of organisations that maintain the register of securities and their owners to obtain confirmation that the deceased had title to the securities as at the date when the inheritance process began.
Currently the notarial community has not devised a unified method for formalizing the inheritance of the majority of securities. For this reason, in every particular case the notary works individually with the situation.
The procedure for formalizing an inheritance that has been worked through to the greatest degree is the procedure with respect to shares: the notary sends a request to the registrar, obtains information regarding the owner, quantity, type and value of the shares, and, based on this, issues a certificate of entitlement to the inheritance.
If securities of another kind are inherited, the notary's request will be sent accordingly to the organisation keeping records of such securities and their owners and controlling the circulation of the securities on the market. For example, with respect to units of mutual investment funds, the request will be sent to the organisation where the broker account (special depositary) is opened or to a special registrar;
with respect to bonds – to the issuer of the bonds (the borrower); for internal depositary receipts – to the account bank (depositary) whose name is stated in the certificate. If American (ADR) or global (GDR) depositary receipts are inherited, the notary sends no requests to foreign companies, but issues a special certificate to register rights to property located outside of Russia.
CONTACTING A NOTARY
Not later than six months from the date of the death of the owner of the securities, the heirs should contact any notary's office at the place of residence of the deceased (as a rule, this is the place where the deceased was registered).
The notary will draw up an application to accept the inheritance and will propose that it be signed, before starting to prepare requests to the organisations keeping records of the owners of securities. It is advisable to take these requests and deliver them personally to addressees, having identified in advance whether these organisations will accept a request personally from heirs and what should be stated in the text.
OBTAINING RESPONSES TO REQUESTS AND FORWARDING THEM TO THE NOTARY
After the notary receives the responses (some organisations hand over responses to heirs – it is advisable to specify such option in the request - and some organisations send responses to the notary by post), the notary will prepare and hand over to the heirs notarial certificates of entitlement to the inheritance together with notarised copies of such certificates.
Notarial certificates cannot be issued earlier than six months from the date when the inheritance process began (the death of the testator).
REGISTERING OWNERSHIP RIGHTS TO SECURITIES
The heir should file, with the organisation which maintains the register, an application to amend the information in the register of holders of securities. Notarised copies of the certificate of entitlement to the inheritance should be attached to the application, as should such other documents as the organisation may request.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT
1. When drawing up a will, a testator should understand that in some cases people not stated in the will may obtain a share of the willed property. This is called a mandatory share in inheritance, and it cannot be overridden by drawing up agreements. Estate planning and the application of legal instruments other than a will may help to resolve such issues.
2. Among the securities belonging to the testator might be securities which require permanent management (the notary establishes this when he/she initiates the inheritance process), including in the period between the initiation of the inheritance process and receipt of the certificate of entitlement to the inheritance. In this case it is possible to assess beforehand the need to manage the property and think over a candidate to act as administrator and a candidate to act as an executor under a will, if such an appointment will be made.
3. If the inheritance base contains property located outside of Russia, it is reasonable to obtain prior advice from an expert regarding the rules of inheritance under the provisions of foreign law. Of particular importance is whether Russia and this foreign country mutually recognise laws and documents to avoid adverse property consequences.