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Can I inherit a cooperative apartment? How is the transfer done?

You probably know that in cooperative housing, you do not own the apartment as such, but only the cooperative share, which is a participation in the housing cooperative. Is it possible, therefore, to inherit a co-operative flat in such circumstances? How does such inheritance work and what to do if there are multiple heirs? Let’s take a closer look together.

6 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Inheritance of a cooperative apartment between spouses

Mrs. Zdena contacted our law firm with a question. Mrs. Zdena was 72 years old, so she was not very old, but she was still wondering what could happen to her property after her death. She lived with her sick husband in a small cooperative apartment in Prague 6 and they owned a cottage in the Central Bohemian region, which at that time was used by their son due to his immobility. Apart from him, they had a younger daughter. Together with her husband, they considered leaving the cooperative flat to their daughter and the cottage to their son. The children liked the idea, but Mrs Zdena was not sure whether this could be done by way of a will and, in particular, how the cooperative flat could be disposed of.

With regard to the matter at hand, we discussed the legal possibilities and the appropriate procedure with Mrs. Zdena very considerately. For the purposes of our text, we shall be more factual and less sensitive in our wording on the subject, which we hope our readers will forgive.

Tip: You can also read about how the gifting of property between spouses works.

Let’s assume that one of them dies first. Thus, a distinction will be made between the part of the property that was in the community of property and that which was in the sole ownership of the deceased. In very simplified terms, the subject of the succession will be the half of the property held in the community of property (the other half belonging to the surviving spouse) and what the deceased himself or herself owned (i.e. the deceased person whose property is the subject of the succession proceedings). However, the cooperative share in particular has a specific regime, since if it was in the community of property, it is not subject to the succession proceedings, but the surviving spouse automatically becomes an exclusive member of the housing cooperative with the right of residence. The cottage in question, which the couple owns, is, however, in ordinary personal ownership and is also part of the matrimonial property. Thus, after the death of one of the spouses, a situation could arise (in the absence of a will) in the succession proceedings where neither of the descendants inherits the flat, but both of them could receive a small share of the cottage.

However, if one of the spouses had acquired the right to the co-operative flat before the marriage, then the co-operative share would normally be dealt with in the inheritance proceedings after the death of the spouse. The other spouse may inherit it, but no other heir is excluded.

Making a will

Do you want to decide who inherits from you? To bequeath a specific part of your estate to a specific person? To be sure that your will is actually respected? We will write a will to suit your requirements. All within 5 days of ordering the service.

Cooperative share in case of multiple heirs

If the other spouse dies later, the membership share is already subject to inheritance proceedings. From a legal point of view, the simplest situation is where there is only one heir. The cooperative share and therefore the right to rent passes to him. But what if there are more than one heir? After all, it is a well-known fact that in the case of cooperative housing, typically only one owner of the cooperative share is registered. In fact, housing associations usually have a restriction on the co-ownership of the co-operative share that allows only spouses (or registered partners).

Theagreement takes precedence in such a situation. If one of the heirs is more interested in the flat and the others are satisfied with other assets from the estate or a payout, they can conclude an inheritance agreement to that effect. In such a case, the heirs should establish the market value of the cooperative share (e.g. by an appraisal obtained from an estate agent or an expert’s report) and the acquirer of the cooperative share will pay each co-heir the appropriate amount within the agreed period.

If such an agreement is not possible, e.g. because there are no other assets in the estate and none of the heirs has sufficient funds to pay the others, an agreement can be made to the effect that one of the heirs becomes the purchaser of the share and pays the other heirs within a certain period of time during which he sells his cooperative share.

In practice, however, it happens that the decision on the acquisition of the inheritance results in more than one person (typically the children of the deceased) becoming the heirs of the cooperative share, i.e. the legal succession in the housing cooperative is not resolved directly in the inheritance proceedings. However, an agreement on who will become the sole owner of the condominium share is still necessary later on, and the latter should settle the other heirs. If this simply cannot happen because of incompatible views, then the situation must be resolved outside the framework of the succession proceedings by an action brought before the court. This will determine who will continue to be a member of the housing association.

Tip: We have discussed the transfer of a cooperative apartment and its differences from the sale of a privately owned apartment in another article.

Therefore, if the family relations are completely smooth and both offspring support the parents’ proposal for the division of the property, then in the first succession procedure (after the death of the first parent) an inheritance agreement is concluded in which only the son inherits the share of the cottage, and in the second succession procedure (after the death of the second parent), after concluding another agreement, the daughter inherits the cooperative flat (or the cooperative share) and the son inherits the remaining part of the cottage.

However, the inheritance is the critical point at which family ties are examined. If there is any doubt as to the common course of action and consensus, then it is better to treat the whole situation with a well-drafted will so that there is no doubt as to the outcome. Not only a notary but also a lawyer can help clients with wills. In a will you do not necessarily have to remember all of your property, for example, you can make a will for only one property or for a cooperative share. The only thing to remember is that by law there are so-called non-negligible heirs who are always entitled to a certain share of the property. In the case of adult children, the mandatory share is one quarter of the legal share of the estate

Tip: We have described how best to handle the inheritance proceedings, what to do in case of debts of the testator and how to avoid disputes and settle with other heirs in our article.

Notary fees

As with the inheritance of other assets, heirs of a cooperative share must take into account the costs of a notary. His fee is based on the amount of the inherited property. The amount of the value of the cooperative share is usually settled by a declaration of consent of the heirs. If they disagree, you can contact a real estate agency that knows the prices of comparable apartments in the area.

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Making a will

Do you want to decide who inherits from you? To bequeath a specific part of your estate to a specific person? To be sure that your will is actually respected? We will write a will to suit your requirements. All within 5 days of ordering the service.

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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.

  • 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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