Deceased Foreigner with a Real Estate in Bulgaria

Deceased foreigner

with a real estate in Bulgaria 

Several months ago our law office was contacted by two young ladies from the UK who explained to us that their father died and as long as they know he bought an apartment at Sunny Beach couple of years before his death. They asked us to explain what they have to do know since they did not know. We took this case although we knew that there is a possibility solving of the case to be very difficult. First thing we did was to make sure that their father actually was the owner of apartment. After that we asked the daughters to provide their father’s death certificate and we started preparing of documents. We drafted a power of attorney that was notarized by the heirs at the UK and after that we started to represent our clients as their lawyers.

According to the Bulgarian legislation /that is applicable for real estates located on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria/ there are two types of succession: by law and by will.

  1. Inheritance by law. The Inheritance Law clearly specifies that the deceased person is inherited by his legal heirs – children; spouse; parents; brothers and sisters and etc. The order of heirs and the amount of shares are precisely determined. Inheritance by law is perfectly clear when speaking of a Bulgarian citizen: heirs of the deceased should obtain a certificate of heirs that specifies all the heirs who have the right to inherit the deceased. The certificate of heirs exists in other countries except Bulgaria. But there are countries where such document does not exist and it cannot be issued. In some countries there is document similar to the certificate of heirs but this document specifies heirs according to the local legislation, as often the circle of heirs according to the foreign legislation is different from the heirs according to the Bulgarian legislation. For example: in some countries children are excluded from the circle of heirs and the only heir is the surviving spouse, in other countries the circle of heirs includes parents of the deceased along with the spouse and the children, and in such a way the requirement of our legislation the deceased to be inherited by his heirs cannot be fulfilled. Our law office has faced many cases when heirs of the deceased foreigner could not prove who should inherit the property of the deceased in Bulgaria. In such cases the inheritance procedure is very complicated, takes a lot of time and money, as sometimes it even cannot be successfully completed /especially when speaking about money in bank accounts/. That is why we advise our clients to protect their investments in Bulgaria and their heirs by making a will which also is the second type of succession in Bulgaria.
  1. Inheritance by Will. Once again the Inheritance Law explicitly specifies that any legally capable person while living has the right to take decision who will inherit his or her property after his death. This decision is taken by making a WILL. What is important is that the will should meet requirements of the Bulgarian legislation. The will should be drafted according to the Inheritance Law, where it is said that a will can be handwritten /written personally by the testator/ or notary /prepared by a notary public in the presence of two witnesses/. A will made in another country is inapplicable for Bulgaria if it does not meet the requirement of the Bulgarian legislation. Usually such are wills drafted and certified by foreign lawyers, which wills do not meet requirements neither for handwritten, nor for notary will.

Luckily for our clients their father had made his handwritten will in Bulgaria in which his daughters were specified as his heirs. The procedure of announcing of the will is strictly regulated and after we announced the will we have registered it at the record history of the real estate – i.e. that the real estate has new owners and in such a way our clients received their late father’s inheritance quickly, easily and not too expensive.

Such case can be mentioned as an example of how foreigners who own property in Bulgaria can protect their assets and their heirs. Making of a handwritten will is extremely easy, quick and not very expensive procedure and existence of such document is invaluable. However, lack of such document leads to extremely adverse legal consequences for the future heirs and their rights! You can find more information about Handwritten wills here: 

Because of the appreciable difference in legislation of EU and non-EU countries making of a will is required for citizens of the UK, Ireland, Russia, Ukraine and of several other countries.

If you have any questions or need assistance please contact us at: