Successions in Macedonia
1 - How can I pass on my assets while I’m still alive?
In accordance with current regulations, assets can be passed in the following ways:
- By deed of gift. Any person may dispose of his/her assets whist alive. That is to say, anyone can pass on his/her assets to heirs or another person or legal entity. If the gift concerns immovable property, then the contract is drawn up by a notary in the form of a notarised act or if it is drafted by a lawyer or by the same contracting parties, then it has to be confirmed by a notary (formalised) and then forwarded electronically to the Land Registry where ownership is changed. The donor may also conclude a deed of gift in case of death with a donee. This deed only produces its effects following the death of the donor.
- By means of a maintenance obligation agreement. This agreement is entered into by the maintenance obligation beneficiary, owner of property, and the person providing maintenance who will be entitled to receive the assets following the death of the maintenance obligation beneficiary. Through this agreement, which is binding for the two contracting parties, the person providing lifetime maintenance takes on duties such as: assuring financial resources to the beneficiary - maintaining, looking after and providing the most appropriate care, assuring medical treatment in an appropriate care facility and covering the cost of treatment in case of death; the person providing lifetime maintenance undertakes to assure a funeral to the beneficiary in accordance with local customs. In exchange for the duties undertaken by the person providing maintenance, the beneficiary leaves him/her specific assets that will be transferred to the person providing maintenance following the beneficiary’s death.
- By will.
2 - Can I retain some rights associated with the assets I give away? Can I reserve a right of reclaim?
In accordance with article 560 of the Obligations Act, the donor may, by means of a deed of gift, retain for himself/herself or for others certain rights set out in the foregoing deed. In practice, the donor retains the right to the lifetime use of the assets given to himself/herself or to others.
Assets given away may be reclaimed (the gift may be revoked) only if the legal criteria to revoke a gift are fulfilled. So, in accordance with article 563 of the Obligations Act, the donor may revoke the gift and demand the return of the assets given away (estate), if the donee’s behaviour towards the donor or any other close person is one of absolute ingratitude. In accordance with article 564 of the Obligations Act, a donor who lacks sufficient living resources or cannot maintain other persons who he/she is legally required to maintain can revoke a gift and reclaim the gift from the donee, if still in the latter’s possession. If the donee was dispossessed of his/her assets in legal proceedings, the conscience of the donee and of the person to whom the assets were transferred will be judged. In accordance with article 567 of the Obligations Act, a deed of gift may provide for the recovery of the gift, if the donee dies before the donor.
3 - How can I make sure my children are treated equally?
If the testator has not left a will or did not own any property whilst alive, all his/her children (born in and out of wedlock) will have the same right to inherit the testator’s estate and will be treated equally.
In accordance with the Succession Act, the Republic of Macedonia has accepted the lineal descent system in successions, according to which heirs partition the estate according to the order of succession, that is to say first, second and third order of succession. Heirs of the previous order exclude heirs of the subsequent order. The heirs in the first order of succession include the testator’s descendants, his/her adopted children and his/her spouse. They succeed in equal parts. If a child dies before the testator, according to the order of representation, his/her share of the inheritance goes to his/her descendants (the testator’s grandchildren), and if a grandchild dies before the testator, his/her share of the inheritance goes to his/her descendants, i.e. the testator’s great grandchildren. As the testator’s children fall within the first order of succession, they are treated equally as established by law.
4 - Can I help one of my children without this reducing his/her share in the inheritance?
Yes. By making a deed of gift through which part of the estate is given to the child. The deed of gift may establish that this part of the estate is not included in the child’s inheritance portion, so that during succession this estate will not be taken into consideration and the child’s portion will not be reduced.
5 - Can I influence the effects of the donation on the succession?
Yes. This can be done in various ways.
By drafting a will: the testator determines heirs by will and the exact property that will be passed on to them following his/her death.
By deed of gift: this type of deed allows the testator to leave his estate to one or more heirs. If at the time of this deed, the testator has only part of his/her estate available, the rest will be pooled with the overall assets of the estate following his/her death and shared amongst all legal heirs. In accordance with the Succession Act of the Republic of Macedonia, if over 90 (ninety) days have elapsed since the deed of gift, the testator’s obligatory heirs cannot ask for any cuts to the deed of gift, because it reduces their obligatory portion of the estate.
Transferring property whilst alive by contract: this type of contract allows the testator to transfer all or part of his estate to his/her descendants and spouse, while he/she is still alive. If some of the descendants or the spouse agree, they can do without succession. This type of contract is signed by the testator, all the descendants and the spouse. Through this type of contract, the testator’s descendants and spouse cannot object to the value of the estate granted to them through this contract, nor can they oppose it, by claiming that it reduces their inheritance portion.
6 - Can I influence the effects of the donation on the succession?
Yes. According to current regulations, if the grandchild’s parent is still alive, it is necessary to pay a transaction tax on the value of the estate. Under current regulations, the transaction tax is 5% of the value of the estate. If the grandchild’s parent is not alive, then the transaction tax is not due.
7 - How can I protect my spouse or partner?
The spouse, and the spouse alone, and not the partner, has the same successions rights as children. The spouse inherits in equal parts as the children. So, if the donor has two children and a spouse, all three inherit an ideal portion of 1/3 each. The spouse may be protected either by concluding a deed of gift through which he or she receives a portion of the estate; by concluding a deed of gift with a child establishing that the spouse has some rights over the estate given; or by concluding a maintenance obligation agreement with the heir or another person through which the person providing lifetime maintenance takes on the duty of maintaining, taking care of and assuring treatment to the spouse.
8 - Can my children renounce the inheritance in advance?
No. In accordance with article 132 of the Succession Act, renouncing succession that has not been opened does not produce any legal effects.
1 - How do I draw up my will?
In accordance with the Succession Act in the Republic of Macedonia there is: the handwritten will, the legal will, the international will and the oral will. In the case of the legal will, the testator may draw up his/her will before a notary in the Republic of Macedonia. If the testator has not written his/her will, he/she may request that it be drawn up by a judge of the court of first instance or by a notary. The steps to be followed to draw up a will before a judge or notary are the same. The testator has the right to decide before whom his/her will is drawn up, a judge or notary.
2 - How can I be sure it will be applied?
The register of wills has not yet been introduced in the Republic of Macedonia. The most reliable way of assuring the application of a will is to deposit it in court or with a notary. If the testator has deposited a will in a court lacking jurisdiction to initiate the succession procedure, this court will inform the competent court that the testator deposited a will, providing correct personal information. Following the death of the testator, the court informs the notary in charge of initiating the succession procedure, that the testator has left a will. If the testator has deposited his/her will with a notary, it is the notary who has to inform the court in charge of initiating the succession procedure that the testator has deposited a will with him/her. If the will is in a safe at the bank or elsewhere, succession will start by taking stock of the contents of the safe and thus learning about the contents of the will.
3 - How can I find a will that has been filed with a notary?
Without any problems. The notary is required to inform the court in charge of successions that the testator has left a will. Thus, following the testator’s death, the heir may ask the court in charge of successions whether the testator had deposited a will.
4 - Which law can I choose?
When a person who is not a national of the a Republic of Macedonia (a foreigner) draws up a will, the law of the country of which the testator was a national at the time of death will be applied to the contents of the will (underlying law). The testator cannot choose the substantive law that will be applied to the drafting of his/her will, but the law of the country of which he/she is a national at the time death will be applied. This is due to the fact that under article 35 of the Private international law Act of the Rep. of Macedonia, the applicable law is the law of the country of which the testator is a national at the time of death. Regarding the capacity to draw up a will, pursuant to article 36 of the same Act, the applicable law will be the one of the country of which the testator was a national at the time of the drafting of the will.
As far as its form is concerned, pursuant to article 37 of the Private international law Act, the will is deemed valid if drafted in accordance with the law, according to one of the following rules:
1. The law of the country where the will was drawn up;
2. The law of the country of which the testator was a national either when the will was drawn up or at the time of death;
3. The law of the country where the testator resided either when the will was drawn up or at the time of death.
4. The law of the country where the testator was staying either when the will was drawn up or at the time of death.
5. The law of the Republic of Macedonia, and
6. Regarding immovable property, the law of the place where it is found.
5 - Can I favour a particular heir (are there restrictions)?
The testator may dispose of his/her estate without any restrictions. The testator can favour any heir, providing this does not affect the obligatory portions of other heirs. The obligatory portion of an heir belonging to the first order of succession is ideally 1/2 (one half) of the portion of the inheritance that he/she would receive by law.
6 - How can I favour my spouse or partner?
A will may establish that a spouse or partner obtain either an exactly defined portion of the estate or assets in a larger quantity or of a greater value, providing that this does not affect the obligatory portion of other heirs.
7 - Can I disinherit someone?
Yes. In accordance with Article 46 of the Successions Act, the testator may disinherit an heir entitled to an obligatory portion of the estate, if: 1. the heir has committed grave mistakes vis-à-vis the testator, by infringing a legal or moral duty; or 2. by wilful intent the heir has committed a grave offence against the testator, his/her spouse or parents. In accordance with Article 47 of the foregoing Act, a testator wishing to disinherit someone is required to express it in his/her will in an irrefutable manner and explain why.
8 - Can I make my last will jointly with someone else?
No. In accordance with the Successions Act of the Republic of Macedonia it is not possible to make a will jointly with someone else.
1 - How are intestate successions regulated by law?
If there is no will, successions in the Republic of Macedonia are regulated by law, so there are legal successions. Successions in the Republic of Macedonia are governed by the Successions Act. In accordance with this Act, the Republic of Macedonia has accepted the lineal descent system in successions, according to which heirs partition the estate according to the order of succession, that is to say first, second and third order of succession. Heirs of the previous order exclude heirs of the subsequent order.
Heirs in the first order of succession include the testator’s descendants, his/her adopted children and his/her spouse. They inherit in equal parts. If a child dies before the testator, according to the order of representation, his/her share of the inheritance goes to his/her descendants (the testator’s grandchildren), and if a grandchild dies before the testator, his/her share of the inheritance goes to his/her descendants, i.e. the testator’s great grandchildren.
Heirs in the second order of succession include the parents and spouse of the testator. The testator’s spouse is entitled to half of the estate, while the other half goes to the parents. If the spouse does not outlive the testator, then the parents inherit the entire estate in equal parts. If one or both parents of the testator have passed away before the testator, the testator’s brothers and sisters inherit the estate. If the testator’s parents have passed away before the testator and they have no other descendants, the testator’s surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.
Heirs in the third order are the testator’s grandparents. If the deceased has no descendants or relatives having any descendants, nor a spouse, the grandparents inherit the estate. The grandparents on the father’s side inherit half of the estate, while the grandparents on the mother’s side inherit the other half. If they are no longer alive, then the estate goes to their descendants. If there are no heirs in the third order of succession, the estate of the deceased goes to the Republic of Macedonia.
2 - Are there particular regulations for specific objects?
Yes, there are. If the object, part of the estate, is a weapon and none of the heirs has a licence to use and own such a weapon, then said weapon will be sold to a competent authority that will register it. If none of the heirs obtains a licence within the established deadline, then the weapon will be sold.
3 - How can I find out if the succession procedures have already been initiated?
The succession procedure in the Republic of Macedonia is initiated ex officio. So, following the death of a person, the birth registry official draws up a death certificate and submits it to the court in charge of the succession procedure. The court having territorial jurisdiction is the court in the area where the testator was either domiciled or had his permanent residence at the time of death. Following the opening of the dossier, the president of the court submits all the documents contained in the dossier to notaries based in the same region as the court, proceeding in alphabetical order according to the notary’s surname.
4 - How can the heirs to the deceased be identified?
A birth registry extract provides proof of the deceased’s heir.
5 - How can I prove that I am the heir?
A birth registry extract provides proof that you are an heir and of your relationship to the deceased.
6 - Are there priority heirs? Is there a reserved portion for certain people?
Regarding successions, the Republic of Macedonia has accepted the lineal descent system according to which heirs partition the estate according to the order of succession, that is to say first, second and third order of succession. Heirs of the same order enjoy the same rights. Heirs of the previous order exclude heirs of the subsequent order. See previous reply regarding the heirs falling in the first, second and third order of succession.
Unless established in a will, the law does not provide for a reserved portion.
7 - Do I inherit the debts?
According to current regulations in the Rep. of Macedonia, an heir does not inherit the testator’s debts. Thus, if the testator has not left an estate at the time of his death, his/her heirs will not inherit any debts, i.e. will not be held liable for the testator’s debts.
8 - What happens when there are minor children among the heirs?
If the testator has minor children, their rights in the procedure will be exercised by the other parent acting as the legal representative whilst alive. If there is a conflict of interests between the parent (legal representative) and the minor children in the procedure, the rights of the latter will be protected by a social affairs centre. In this case, the authority handling the succession procedure, the court or the notary, informs the competent social authority so that it may be involved in the procedure. If the testator’s heir is a minor descendant, the minor’s legal representative (the parent) cannot renounce the inheritance on his/her behalf. In order to renounce the estate, it is necessary to have the written consent of the competent social authority.
9 - Can the surviving spouse inherit?
Yes. The surviving spouse can inherit. Likewise, if the testator has some descendants, the surviving spouse and the descendants inherit the estate in equal parts. The surviving spouse inherits, if the testator has no descendants, whereas if the testator has parents or brothers and sisters, then the surviving spouse inherits half the estate.
10 - How are the inventory and evaluation of the deceased’s assets carried out?
The inventory of the estate comprises all of the deceased’s assets at the time of his/her death, as well as assets owned by the deceased but kept by someone else, in this case specifying which assets are kept by whom and why. The inventory also includes the deceased’s receivables and debts, especially taxes and other duties. Movable property is noted based on type, sort, number, size and weight or individually. Immovable property is included in the inventory specifying the place where it is found, crops and data from public registers where the rights over said property and other cadastral data are recorded. When drawing up an inventory, an estimate of the value of the immovable property included in the estate is also made concomitantly. Articles 146 and 150 of the Non-contentious Procedures Act establish when an inventory and an estimate are required and mandatory, and who performs them – a legal officer or a notary.
11 - What are my obligations if I accept an inheritance?
If an heir accepts the inheritance, he/she will be required to pay back any debts of testator’s, but only up to the sum he/she has inherited.
If the testator has left an estate whilst alive, the heir who has accepted the inheritance will be liable for the testator’s debts up to the sum of the value of the estate For example, if the testator had a debt of 100,000 EUR at the time of his/her death, and the value of the inheritance amounts to 50,000 EUR, the heirs will be required to pay back the testator’s debt up to the value of the estate, that is to say in this case, they will pay back 50,000 EUR of the debt. As to the difference, heirs have no obligations.
If a succession is made in accordance with a will and the will mentions a legatee who has to be insured by a heir, then the heir will be required to insure the legatee.
12 - Is it possible to renounce an inheritance or accept it under benefit of inventory?
Yes. If an inventory is done, as well as an estimate of the estate, the statement to accept or reject the inheritance is filed following the inventory and evaluation. The heir will be liable only to the extent of the sum inherited and not his/her own assets.
13 - How do we administer and divide up the assets if there is more than one heir?
Until a decision on succession is reached, the heirs manage the estate jointly and severally. If there is no executor and heirs have not reached an agreement on the management of the estate, the court, at the request of one of them, appoints a person to manage the estate in their place.
The court may appoint one of the heirs to manage the estate. If heirs fail to reach an agreement to divide up the inheritance, then it will be partitioned up by the court in a non-contentious procedure.
Paying inheritance tax
1 - How are succession duties calculated?
If the law provides for the payment of succession taxes, the tax rate is paid once the decision on succession is enforced; the tax is calculated based on the value of the inheritance and there are varying tax rates.
2 - What is the tax rate for succession duties?
In the case of succession tax rates are 3-5%, according to the decision of each local government (municipality). Legal heirs do not pay tax.
3 - for the children?
If children are heirs, they do not pay taxes on succession in the Republic of Macedonia.
4 - for the spouse ?
The spouse does not pay tax on succession, neither for legal nor for testamentary successions.
5 - for someone not directly related to the deceased?
If the heir is not directly related to the testator, then a 3-5% tax is paid on the value of the inheritance.
6 - Others
The tax rates are the same ones mentioned previously.
7 - When is the tax due?
The tax has to be paid within 15 days from the enforcement of the Decision on succession.