Who can be a close person and what is its legal meaning?

A close person is a concept that is encountered in many areas of law. However, its definition and scope may vary from case to case. In what situations can the institution of a close person be used and how can your relatives and friends be of benefit to you?

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6 minutes of reading

In civil law, a close relative means a relative in the direct line, a sibling and a spouse or a partner under the Registered Partnership Act. In addition, persons in a family or similar relationship who would perceive harm to one of them as harm to themselves are referred to as close to each other. There is also a presumption that persons close to each other are married persons and those who live together permanently.

Moreover, in one of its judgments, the Constitutional Court has held that not only relatives but also close friends may be regarded as close persons if there is an intense emotional relationship between them. This must be assessed on an individual basis and it must be examined whether such a close relationship actually exists. Normal human proximity is not enough. The courts should therefore assess very carefully and individually cases in which a close person appears without being a family member.

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What are some typical areas where you can use the institute of a loved one?

Protection of the name and unauthorized interference with it

If someone interferes with your right to your name, for example by unauthorized use of your name, it is not only you who can claim protection, but also your spouse or another person close to you.

Entrusting a child to the care of another person

If no parent or guardian can take care of a minor child, a guardianship court is held and another possible circle of carers is sought. The law states that if a relative or a person close to the child has taken personal care of the child, the court shall give him/her priority over another person, unless this is not in accordance with the best interests of the child.

Criminal proceedings

Close relatives have certain special rights in criminal proceedings. The most frequently used is certainly the right to refuse to give evidence if such evidence could endanger other close persons by endangering them. It should be noted that the Criminal Code regulates the concept of close persons somewhat more narrowly than the Civil Code. It is understood to mean a relative in the direct line of descent, an adoptive parent, a sibling, a spouse and a partner. It may also include other persons in a family or similar relationship if the harm suffered by one of them is reasonably felt by the other as their own.

Traffic offenses

Similar to criminal proceedings, there is an option to withhold testimony for non-indictment of loved ones in traffic offenses. In the case of traffic offenses, you do not exercise this right when you are stopped on the road, but rather for speeding tickets that come in the mail later. Conversely, however, the earlier practice of using the excuse of a loved one to avoid prosecution for a traffic violation ended years ago when lawmakers made car owners directly responsible for poor parking or speeding if the driver could not be identified. 

Close person and taxes

Close persons can also have a big impact on your tax liability. For example, if you make a gratuitous gift, the income is not subject to tax

  • from a relative in the direct line of descent, or from a sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece, spouse, child of a spouse, child of a spouse, parent of a spouse, or spouse of parents,
  • and from a person with whom the taxpayer has lived in the same household for at least one year immediately before receiving the gratuitous income.

Inheritance

In the context of inheritance proceedings, we typically find close persons in the various inheritance groups provided for by law. In addition to descendants, spouses and other close relatives, we may encounter the concept of a cohabitant. This person inherits equally with the deceased’s parents and the surviving spouse in the second inheritance class.

Tip: We have discussed the details of inheritance groups and the entire inheritance procedure in our article.

Caring for loved ones

This concept takes on additional meaning if you are taking care of someone and need to get time off work from your employer, for example, or are considering a state contribution.

You can typically get sick pay primarily for a minor child, but it also applies to adults with whom you share a household, or for caring for a spouse, civil partner, or spouse’s parents.

If you are unable to perform basic life activities independently because of ill health, the care provided by others can be associated with a care allowance. However, this belongs to the person being cared for. The allowance provided, on the other hand, pays for the assistance provided by a person close to the disabled person, or by an assistance service or a special facility.

Pre-emption right

 A close person can also have preferential treatment over co-owners in certain property situations, such as in the case of joint ownership resulting from inheritance. If a co-ownership share is transferred within six months of its acquisition, other co-owners have a preemption right. However, this right can be waived by a close person, such as a spouse, sibling, or direct relative, who can be given priority over the co-owner.

Labor law

In addition to the aforementioned care of loved ones and the possible use of leave or allowances, the close person, namely the spouse, is also important in the context of employment. It is true that the employment relationship cannot be between spouses. However, the Labour Code does not prohibit the employment of spouses in the same workplace by a third person, even in the capacity of a superior and a subordinate. However, stricter rules are imposed by the law on state service for state officials, which also apply to other close individuals besides spouses.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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