“International Inheritance” – aspects in Canada and Lithuania.
Approximately 7.5 million people came to Canada through immigration, according to the 2016 Canadian census. Among these, almost every country in the world is represented, big and small. Countries of origin include places like; Philippines, India, China, Italy, France, South Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States among others. A lesser number arrived from Lithuania, itself a smaller country on the Baltic Sea with a population today of about 2.8 million. Currently, about 60,000 Canadians claim Lithuanian ethnic origin. As a result of the relationships between families in the two countries, international inheritance law questions can arise. There can be beneficiaries named in wills who reside in the other country, or heirs to be located in the case of an intestate deceased.
According to Lithuanian law, acceptance of an inheritance is a very important legal act. This is a procedural step that a Canadian lawyer would likely observe with some curiosity. A beneficiary with a “testamentary reservation” as well as any other testate or intestate heir has to “accept” the inheritance. The law establishes a very short term of three months for doing this. Therefore, the heirs have to be very careful in order not to miss the term or must then turn to a court requesting an extension. The beneficiary of the testamentary reservation must inform the executor of the will of the acceptance, or the notary public of the place of succession. In the event where the testamentary reservation includes a right to real estate, then acceptance in all cases must be filed with the notary public. The notary issues a “certificate of the right to inheritance” and the testamentary reservation must be registered in the Public Register.
Testators have the right to place obligations, like when real estate or a private enterprise is devolved to another person for use during their life, or the revenue derived from that property. In the event where the testator establishes maintenance for somebody without specifying exact terms, then that person is generally entitled to board, accommodation, clothing and medical care. Those who study are entitled to have their study expenses paid during the duration of their study, but not longer than the age of twenty-four.
Currently, there are several litigation cases on the issues of testamentary reservation in Lithuanian courts. In the last 10-15 years there are now more Lithuanian wills containing provisions with testamentary reservations. However, some reservations are not allowed. For example provisions in a will that violate laws, like requiring: becoming a member of a particular organization in order to receive an inheritance, graduating from a particular college, or even a requirement to marry the testator’s daughter in order to receive the inheritance. Any such provisions, which, violate human rights and the Constitution, are considered null and void.
If you are interested in further information on the topic of international inheritance we are please to assist, along with our lawyer colleagues in Lithuania who have contributed to this blog.
Thanks for reading,