In the Czech Republic, succession and inheritance rights are defined by a set of rules that determine who is entitled to inherit the assets of a deceased individual, known as the decedent.
A succession right is the entitlement to the decedent’s estate or a proportional share of it. The right to inherit is held by the legal heirs, who are individuals entitled to a portion of the estate based on their relationship to the decedent.
Succession can take place under an inheritance agreement, a will, or by operation of the law. These methods can coexist, with priority given to the inheritance agreement, followed by a will and lastly followed by the law.
1. Inheritance Agreement
Under an inheritance agreement, the testator names the counterparty or a third party as an heir, devisee or legatee, and the other party accepts this. The Agreement requires a form of notarial deed. However, the entire estate cannot be disposed of in this manner, as a quarter must remain vacant for the decedent’s separate wishes or potential future disposition.
A will is a revocable written expression of the decedent’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property after death. It can be created as a holographic testament, a private instrument, or a notarial deed. The latter ensures the will’s safekeeping in a registry.
3. Legal Order of Succession
When no agreement as to succession or will exists, the legal order of succession is determined based on “succession classes.” In the first class, the decedent’s children and spouse inherit equally. The second class includes the spouse, parents, and cohabitants, with the spouse inheriting at least half. Subsequent classes involve siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-nieces, and great-nephews. If no heirs exist in these classes, the state assumes the role of heir.
The acquisition of an inheritance is confirmed by a court in succession proceedings. Succession proceedings are initiated by the court, so it is not necessary to actively apply for your inheritance right. Inheritance proceedings are conducted by a notary appointed by the court. The assigned notary contacts the heirs to find out the deceased’s assets, possible inheritance agreement or will. There is no time limit for settling the inheritance. The standard duration of inheritance proceedings is up to 6 months from the death of the testator, but it depends on many factors, for example, whether inheritance agreement or will meets formal requirements set by the law or whether someone contradicts these documents.
If you consider disposing of your estate either under an inheritance agreement or under will, seeking legal help might be advisable. Such guidance can help preempt potential conflicts, ensuring a smoother transition of assets.