Successions in Ukraine
1 - How can I pass on my assets while I’m still alive?
A person is entitled to dispose of his/her assets at his/her discretion and while still alive to pass them to another person without any restrictions. The most commonly used methods to pass on assets are the following:
- a will in case of death;
- a deed of gift through which a person passes on his assets to another person at no charge;
- a lifetime maintenance agreement on the basis of which a person passes on his assets to another person who takes responsibility for maintaining the transferor and taking care of him/her
- an inheritance agreement on the basis of which the beneficiary accepts to comply with the transferor’s wishes and in case of death of the latter, acquires ownership rights over the transferor’s assets. Furthermore, based on this agreement, the beneficiary may be obliged to perform a given tangible or intangible action prior to or after the opening of the succession.
2 - Can I retain some rights associated with the assets I give away?
If assets are passed on by means of a deed of gift, rights are not retained. In the case of a will or an inheritance agreement, a person retains his/her rights over property until death. When passing on assets based on a lifetime maintenance agreement, ownership rights are transferred to another person in the course of the transferor’s lifetime, but the law provides the transferor with guarantees that the beneficiary fulfils his duties.
3 - Can I reserve a right of reclaim?
In the case of a will, a testator is entitled to change or even revoke his/her will at any time prior to his death. Moreover, a testator may draw up a will subject to conditions. In other words, the testator may impose a number of commitments on the heir tied that may or may not be tied to the latter’s behaviour (presence of other heirs, residence in a given place, obtaining education, etc.).
In the case of an inheritance agreement or a lifetime maintenance agreement, the decision to reclaim assets can only be made by a court by terminating the agreement at the request of the transferor, in case of failure on the part of the beneficiary to abide by his/her wishes.
4 - How can I make sure my children are treated equally?
5 - Can I help one of my children without this reducing his/her share in the inheritance?
Yes, to help one of the children without reducing his/her share of the inheritance, you can make a donation while you are still alive.
6 - Can I influence the effects of the donation on the succession?
A donation made by a person while he/she is alive does not influence succession at all, since the estate comprises assets and rights belonging to this person at the time of his/her death. So, if whilst alive a person passes on his/her assets (donation, lifetime benefit, inheritance agreement), then these assets will not be included in the succession and do not affect the inheritance portion.
7 - Can I give my assets directly to my grandchildren?
Yes, a person is entitled to make a will whilst alive or to give his/her assets directly to his/her grandchildren. If the grandchildren are of age (18 years old), you can draw up a lifetime maintenance agreement or an inheritance agreement.
8 - How can I protect my spouse or partner?
To protect your spouse or partner, you can sign a lifetime care agreement or include in your will the heir’s duty to grant your spouse the right to use inherited assets.
9 - Can my children renounce the inheritance in advance?
Legal or testamentary heirs can renounce succession in the course of the six months following the date of the opening of the succession.
1 - How do I draw up my will?
The will has to be drafted in the form of a notarised act.
The will has to be authenticated by a competent person, in particular:
- by a notary ;
- by an official authorised to draft notarised acts, other than secret wills (namely, local government officials; captains of sea-going and river-going vessels flying the flag of Ukraine; leaders of reconnaissance expeditions or other expeditions; commanders of military units, bases, institutions or schools; heads of penitentiary institutions, heads of detention institutions; chief medical officers or their deputies within medical units or on-duty physicians in hospitals and other healthcare facilities; heads or chief medical officers of homes for the elderly and the disabled);
- through the consular posts of Ukraine.
2 - How can I be sure it will be applied?
The testator can assign the execution of a will to any person or legal entity. The executor can be anyone among the persons mentioned in a will or any other person who is not a testamentary heir.
If the testator has not appointed an executor or the person he appoints refuses to execute a will or is excluded from its execution, then an executor may be appointed:
- by the heirs who are entitled to choose an executor from amongst the heirs or appoint another person;
- by a notary or, in rural areas, by a competent local government official of the place where the succession was opened.
Heirs are entitled to supervise the actions of the executor.
Following the execution of a will, the executor submits a report on the implementation of the authority delegated to him/her to the heirs or their legal representatives.
3 - How can I find a will that has been filed with a notary?
Notarised wills (excluding secret ones) are drafted in two copies. One copy is given to the testator, while the other is kept in the notarial archives.
All wills are registered electronically in the Register of Wills. The information concerning the testator and the details of the notarised will are recorded (date, registry number, forms used, information on the storage position of the archived copy of the will). So, whilst alive the testator may ask any notary to obtain information on his/her drafted will and its storage position. After the testator’s death, the right to obtain information on the will is passed on to the heirs and the notary who keeps a succession file.
In the case of secret wills, there is a procedure whereby the notary announces the secret contents of the will.
4 - Which law can I choose?
Successions concerning immovable property are governed by the law of the State where said property is found, but the assets subject to registration in the national registry of Ukraine are governed by the law of Ukraine.
Succession relations are governed by the law of the State where the testator had his/her last place of residence, if the testator has not chosen the law of the State of which he/she is a national.
The choice of the law is not valid if the testator has changed citizenship after writing his/her will.
The form of the will is regulated by the law of the State where the testator had his/her permanent residence when drafting the will or at the time of death.
5 - Can I favour a particular heir (are there restrictions)?
The testator may, at his/her discretion, favour an heir in being entitled to inherit, notwithstanding any direct reason for his/her exclusion. That is to say, as a general rule, a person who has intentionally taken the life of the testator or of one of his/her possible heirs, or who has attempted to assassinate him/her, is deprived of the right to inherit. However, this rule is not applied to a person who has made such an attempt, if the testator has nevertheless designated him/her as a legatee.
6 - How can I favour my spouse or partner?
As a general rule, in a will the testator is entitled to assign a larger portion of the estate to one of his/her heirs (e.g. a spouse or partner).
7 - Can I disinherit someone?
Yes, the testator may for any reason disinherit anyone among his/her legatees. In this case, this person cannot obtain the right to inherit.
However, the testator cannot deprive persons entitled to a reserved portion of the estate (minor children, disabled grown-up children, disabled widow/widower, disabled parents) of their right to inherit. The validity of a will vis-à-vis persons entitled to a reserved portion has to be established when opening the succession.
In case of death of a person who had been deprived of his/her right to inherit prior to the testator’s death, this deprivation of the right to inherit is repealed. The children (grandchildren) of this person have the same right to inherit as others.
8 - Can I make my last will jointly with someone else?
Yes, a couple has the right to jointly draft a will concerning assets belonging to them, as matrimonial assets.
1 - How are intestate successions regulated by law?
In the absence of a will, succession is regulated by law.
The legal heirs are entitled to inherit in order.
Each subsequent order of legal heirs obtains the right of succession in case of absence of heirs in the previous order, their exclusion from the right of succession or their non-acceptance or renunciation of the inheritance.
The order of heirs obtaining the right of succession can be changed by means of a notarised agreement between the parties following the opening of the succession.
The estate is divided into equal portions among the heirs who have obtained it (by filing a declaration of succession or of fact). The portions can be changed by means of an agreement on the sharing of the estate.
2 - Are there particular regulations for specific objects?
Under Ukrainian law, there are no particular regulations for specific objects. All objects are inherited under at same conditions.
3 - How can I find out if the succession procedures have already been initiated?
Before initiating the succession procedure, the notary, contacted by the heirs to correctly establish the right of succession, has to check whether the case has already been opened following the testator’s death.
Furthermore, anyone among the heirs having a death certificate may contact a notary and receive information from the Register of Wills on the succession procedure already opened or the drawing up of a certificate of succession.
4 - How can the heirs to the deceased be identified?
The heirs of the deceased are identified among the persons who have filed an application to accept succession and on the basis of documents proving their kinship. According to Ukrainian law in force, heirs will be held liable for withholding information on other heirs, as a result of which their inheritance certificates will be considered invalid.
5 - How can I prove that I am the heir?
6 - Are there priority heirs?
7 - Is there a reserved portion for certain people?
8 - Do I inherit the debts?
Yes, the structure of succession comprises all the testator’s rights and responsibilities at the time of the opening of succession that did not cease because of his/her death.
9 - What happens when there are minor children among the heirs?
Minors aged between fourteen and eighteen are deemed to have accepted the inheritance, but they are entitled to renounce acceptance with the consent of their parents (adoptive parents), their legal guardians or the guardianship authority.
10 - Can the surviving spouse inherit?
The surviving spouse belongs to the first order of legal heirs.
However, a member of the couple is entitled to assign his/her share of the matrimonial assets acquired during marriage.
11 - How are the inventory and evaluation of the deceased’s assets carried out?
The inventory of the estate is organised with the participation of the parties concerned (optionally) and in the presence of at least two witnesses.
A report is drawn up providing general information (date, time, name of the person drawing it up, date of receipt of the application for interim measures to protect the succession, heirs, etc.) and the inventory of the assets with a separate detailed description of each item (colour, weight, nominal size, variety, model, year of manufacture and in the case of foreign currencies – bank notes, face value, exchange rate of the Ukrainian national bank, etc.) and their estimated value, taking depreciation rates into due account.
In case of disagreement with these estimates, the heirs have the right to invite a specialist or expert evaluator whose fee will be paid by them.
12 - What are my obligations if I accept an inheritance?
The heirs are required to pay the reasonable costs incurred by one of them or by another person for the maintenance, care, treatment and burial of the testator.
The heirs are obliged to satisfy the requests of creditors fully, but to the extent of the value of the estate. Each of the heirs has to fulfil the request of creditors in person, at a rate corresponding to his/her share of the estate.
The heirs who have accepted the inheritance comprising immovable property are obliged to obtain inheritance certificates.
13 - Is it possible to renounce an inheritance or accept it under benefit of inventory?
A person who has filed a declaration to accept an inheritance may withdraw it within the deadline fixed for the acceptance of inheritance (a period of 6 months to accept the succession starting from the date of its opening). A declaration of renouncement of the inheritance can be withdrawn within the period fixed for its acceptance.
De facto acceptance: an heir who has lived permanently with the testator and who has not renounced the inheritance is deemed to have accepted it de facto. This person does not have to deposit a declaration to accept the inheritance, as he/she administers the estate de facto.Minor children, incapacitated persons and persons with limited capacity, are deemed to have accepted the inheritance.
14 - How do we administer and divide up the assets if there is more than one heir?
If there is more than one heir, the estate is divided equally, unless agreed otherwise by them.
Administration of assets: if the inheritance includes assets requiring maintenance, care or any other effective or legal action to maintain them in good conditions, in the absence of heirs or an executor, it is the notary or the competent local government official, if there is no notary, who signs the contract for the administration of the assets with another person.
The person administering the assets has the right to take any necessary action to preserve them until the appearance of the heirs or the acceptance of the inheritance.
Paying inheritance tax
1 - How are succession duties calculated?
Succession duties are calculated as a percentage of the tax base. The value of the estate as determined by independent experts is taken as the tax base.
2 - What is the tax rate for succession duties? for the children? for the spouse ?
If the testator and the heirs are residents (have their permanent residence in Ukraine), the tax rate and the military tax is 0%.
If the testator and the heirs are not residents, the tax rate is 18% and the military tax is 1.5%.
3 - for someone not directly related to the deceased ? others ?
If the heir does not belong to the first order of legal heirs of the deceased (children, parents, spouses), he/she has to pay the tax rate for residents - 5%, for non-residents - 18%. Furthermore, residents and non-residents pay the military tax of 1.5% .
4 - When is the tax due?
Residents can pay succession duties by the end of the calendar year during which they received their inheritance certificates.
Non-residents have to pay succession duties before the issue of their inheritance certificates.