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Russia - Supreme Court clarifies how to challenge a will

Russia (, - The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation considered a painful and very common everyday situation - children got nothing after the death of a parent. In the will, which the testator managed to draw up during his lifetime, the only heir to his apartment and bank accounts was a completely stranger to his own children.

The children decided to fight for the left property and took the lawsuit against this heir to court. They wanted their father's will and the certificate of inheritance the man had already received to be invalidated. In court, the children said that during his lifetime, his father had a good apartment and "other property." And all this is completely unjustifiably bequeathed to the defendant. It should be emphasized that the will was drawn up in accordance with all the rules at the notary's office. According to the statement of the notary of the happy heir, an inheritance case was opened, and this person received a certificate of the right to inheritance.

As the plaintiffs stated in court, at the will was drawn up, their father, due to his illnesses, "could not be accountable for his actions." The court of first instance listened to the parties and agreed with the testator's children. As an argument, he cited the conclusion of a comprehensive post-mortem psychological and psychiatric examination.

The heir accepted the inheritance if he paid the debts of the deceased, received the money that he was owed

It was written in it that the elderly man at the time of writing the will was unwell and could not "be aware of his actions and be guided by them." The heir was outraged by such a verdict, and he appealed this decision. The appeal, and later the cassation, the decision in favor of the children was canceled and stated the following. After the death of their father, the children did not immediately apply for acceptance of the inheritance; they did not come to the notary within the six-month period established by law. Well, later, when six months had passed, the children did not apply for the restoration of the missed deadline for accepting the inheritance.

About such behavior of children, the appeal said that they "did not express the will to enter the inheritance", they have no grounds for the emergence of rights to property. And the plaintiffs "are not endowed with the right to appeal against the will and the certificate of the right to inheritance." Such a decision did not suit the testator's children. They appealed to the Supreme Court, asking to cancel the verdict of appeal and cassation. Having studied the materials of the dispute, the Judicial Collegium for Civil Cases of the Supreme Court agreed with the children of the deceased. She canceled the decision of the appeal and cassation, saying that they "are based on a misinterpretation and application of substantive and procedural law."

Here are the arguments reached by the Supreme Court. He began with Article 1152 of the Civil Code. It says that in order to acquire an inheritance, the heir must accept it. The next article, 1153 CC, tells how to accept an inheritance. More precisely, it is necessary to apply to the notary at the place of opening of the inheritance with a statement of acceptance of the inheritance, or write an application from the heir for issuing him a certificate of the right to inheritance.

The law says that until proven otherwise, the heir is recognized as having accepted the inheritance if he "committed actions that testify to the actual acceptance of the inheritance." Under such actions, the law understands the following: the heir came into possession or management of the hereditary property, took measures to preserve it, from "encroachments or claims of third parties", he himself pays the costs of maintaining this hereditary property. And also in the case when the heir paid the debts of the testator, if any, or received "from third parties" money that they owed to the testator during his lifetime.

Article 1154 of the Civil Code says about the term for accepting an inheritance - it can be accepted within 6 months from the date of its opening. The Supreme Court also recalled its plenum, which was devoted to the consideration of inheritance cases (decree of May 29, 2012 N 9). This ruling says that under the commission of actions by the heir, saying that he accepted the inheritance, one must understand the actions listed in Article 1153 of the Civil Code, as well as "other actions in which the attitude of the heir to the inheritance is manifested as to his own property." So, under these "other actions" an application can be filed with the court for the protection of their inheritance rights.

The materials of the plenum also emphasize that both the applicants for the inheritance themselves and other people on their behalf can apply. And all this must happen within a six-month period, which is mentioned in Article 1154 of the Civil Code.

From the materials of our case, the Supreme Court saw that the claim for the recognition of the will and certificate of the right to inheritance as invalid was made by the children of the testator within a six-month period. And they are the heirs of the first stage after the death of their father.

Therefore, the appeal and the cassation were wrong, arguing that the children missed the six-month deadline.

Russia - Supreme Court clarifies how to challenge a will