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Making a will and settling an inheritance

People who have spent a lifetime building and appreciating their wealth often want to have some control over what happens to it after they die. The easiest way to do this is to make a will. What should a will look like, what should it contain and what forms can it take?

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What variations of a will do we know?

The right of inheritance is explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution itself. A common “tool” to actively settle one’s estate during one’s lifetime is the classic will. It is actually a unilateral “last will”, i.e. an instruction on how the property is to be disposed of.

It can be made in your own hand with your signature or with witnesses. However, it is safest to make a will in the form of a public deed. Such a will will not get “lost”, as the notary keeps it in a special register. In the will, the person concerned, known in legal parlance as the “testator”, names the heirs and specifies their shares.

The will can also set a condition, such as that a grandchild must finish his education in order to get the veteran grandfather he always wanted. However, a condition cannot be imposed that would be contrary to good morals or public policy. Thus, it is not possible, for example, to condition an inheritance on a prohibition to marry or to marry. It is also possible to impose an obligation on the heir by way of an order, for example, that he must mow the meadow he inherits.

A contract of inheritance may also be concluded. The latter is more of a curiosity. It is a relatively new institution, which has only been applied since 2014. In essence, a contract can be concluded with the heir, specifying exactly what they will inherit. Often the heir will also pay something for it.

However, this new method is not used much in practice. If only because we are not restricted in any way in the disposal of property during our lifetime. We can therefore transfer the property for a consideration or without consideration at our discretion to a person other than the contracting heir.

If inheritance is not by contract of succession or by will, it is inherited by operation of law. The Civil Code provides for six classes of inheritance, which come into play in turn. According to the first inheritance class, the spouse and children inherit. If they are not, then the property passes to their descendants. If there are no heirs from the first inheritance class, then heirs from the second inheritance class come in, and so on. Newly included in the circle of legal heirs are “great-grandparents” or cousins.

If the deceased has no relatives, the inheritance goes to the State as a so-called “legacy”. In the case where the deceased had, for example, one property and some funds in addition, it would certainly be a pity to divide the property among the survivors. We have a lot of experience of how such situations end. If it is possible, it is preferable to leave the estate to one person and pay out the others. Indeed, it may be impossible to reach an agreement after the death of the “patriarch” of the family. Especially in situations where part of the family lives in the inherited house and part of the family sees it only as a source of income and does not want to invest in its improvement.

In the case of heirs who inherit by operation of law or by will, a “universal succession” occurs. This means that they inherit everything in a certain proportion, and there are so-called non-nominal heirs. They are entitled to a certain share of the inheritance regardless of the will or legacy. This makes problems typically just in the situation where the dominant asset of the testator is the estate and the rest is not really worth much. The non-negligible heirs are the children, and if they do not inherit, their descendants. A minor non-domiciliary heir must receive at least three-quarters of his or her legal share of the inheritance. A minor is entitled to one quarter.

Let’s explain this with an example:

A testator has a wife, one son aged 22 and another aged 17. The value of the estate, which consists of one house owned exclusively by the testator, is CZK 3,600,000. According to the will, everything is to go to the wife. However, due to the obligatory shares, it will not be possible to follow the will consistently. The wife and children are in the first inheritance class and inherit equally. In our case, each would legally receive 1/3 of the estate, which amounts to CZK 1,200,000. The obligatory share of the minor son is 3/4 of the legal share, i.e. the share of the estate. This amounts to 900,000 crowns. For the minor, as we have already said, it is ¼ of the legal share, in this case 300,000 crowns. The mother would receive the remaining 2,400,000.

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.

As we said in the introduction, people who have spent a lifetime building and appreciating their wealth often want to have some control over what happens to it after they die. The easiest way to do this is to make a will. What should a will look like, what should it contain and what forms can it take? We have addressed this in our separate article.

Disinheritance

If the testator wants the heirs not to receive even the obligatory share, he must disinherit them. However, disinheritance is only possible for statutory reasons. For failure to provide assistance, if the descendant does not show a genuine interest in the testator, if he has been convicted of a crime committed under circumstances that indicate his degenerate nature, or if he leads a permanently disorderly life. A special reason is then the disinheritance of a descendant because of heavy indebtedness, but also profligacy. Here, however, it is necessary that the testator should at the same time bequeath what would have belonged to his prodigal son or daughter directly to their descendants, i.e. to his grandchildren. In practice, however, this is really extreme behaviour, typically drug addiction.

However, it is not only the testator who should be careful when dealing with inheritance. An estate, although on the face of it it may contain perhaps more valuable real estate, may in fact be overstretched. That is, the aggregate of debts exceeds the value of the estate.

The inheritance can, of course, be rejected. Which is usually because it is over-indebted. The inheritance then goes to the other heirs in the proportion in which they inherit. Beware, however, that the refusal cannot be revoked.

The inheritance can also be renounced or waived. A renunciation can only be made in favour of someone else. A renunciation of the right of succession can be made by contract during the lifetime of the testator.

This article was prepared for the Lidové noviny series “Law & Housing”. See also other articles from the series:

  1. What to watch out for when buying a property
  2. How to get a mortgage
  3. What to check before buying a property
  4. Who pays the property transfer tax and how?
  5. What should be included in the property purchase contract
  6. The most common mistakes when drafting a proposal to the Land Registry
  7. Buying a property from a developer
  8. Keeping the purchase price when buying a property
  9. The difference between a condominium and a freehold
  10. What is an annuity?
  11. How to properly gift a property
  12. What is the purpose of an easement or servitude?
  13. Making a will and settling an estate
  14. What is a collation
  15. What shouldn’t be missing from a lease agreement
  16. When rent increases can be made
  17. Termination of the lease
  18. Agreement to end the tenancy
  19. How to draw up a work contract with a tradesman
  20. Hidden defects and cancellation of a works contract
  21. When do you need planning permission to renovate a property?
  22. Home Rules
  23. What does serving on a condominium board entail?
  24. Why not underestimate the bylaws in a condominium
  25. Common areas in a block of flats
  26. What is involved in refurbishing a block of flats
  27. Can a condominium or housing association go into debt?
  28. How to renovate a house or cottage
  29. What to watch out for when dealing with a construction “company”?
  30. Building a house on a “green field”
  31. How to remove land from the agricultural fund

Are you solving a similar problem?

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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.

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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