Inheritance in Armenia
What law governs the succession?
If the decedent’s last place of residence was in Armenia, the inheritance is governed by the laws of Armenia, unless the testator has designated in his will the law of another state of which he is a citizen.
The ability of a person to make or revoke a will, the form of a will and its revocation is governed by the law of the state of the decedent’s habitual residence at the moment of performing those acts.
In any case, the succession of the real estate located in Armenia will be governed by the law of Armenia.
What property is included in the inheritance?
Inheritance comprises of the property belonging to the decedent at the time of their death, including money, securities, property rights and obligations.
Inheritance does not contain the rights and obligation which are inextricably linked with the personality of the decedent, including:
Rights to and obligations in respect of alimony
The right to compensation for harm caused to the life or health of a citizen
Personal non-property rights and other non-material values
Rights and duties whose transfer by the procedure for inheritance is not allowed by the present Code or other statutes
Heirs are liable for the obligations of the decedent within the limits of the value of the inheritance.
How are the heirs determined?
The heirs are determined by law or by statute (intestacy).
Who can be an heir or a beneficiary?
The following categories of people can inherit both by will or statute:
Physical persons (citizens, foreign citizens and stateless persons) alive on the day of opening the inheritance
Children conceived during the life of the diseased and born alive after his death
Legal persons, communities, the Republic of Armenia, foreign states and international organizations may be beneficiaries by will.
Does a person have the absolute freedom to bequeath his property?
The right to bequeath is only limited by the concept of mandatory share (reserved portion).
Regardless of the terms of the will, decedent’s minor children (before the age 18) as well as children, spouse and parents who are over the age of 60, disabled or lack legal capacity reserve the right to half of the inheritance that would have been allotted to them by statute.
How a will can be made?
A will must be made in writing, read and signed by the testator and notarized. The failure to comply with this rule may render the will void.
If for reasons related to health or literacy, the testator is unable to read or sign the will on his own, another person can do it for him.
Armenian citizens residing abroad can have their will certified by the Armenian diplomatic or consular service.
Heads of certain institutions and some other persons can sometimes validate the will instead of a notary (Chief doctor of a hospital, heads of nursing homes, military facilities, prison or jail wardens can validate will for persons held in those facilities, etc.)
What is the difference between making a will and a gift?
In practical terms, making a gift constitutes a transfer of ownership at the time of concluding a gift contract. There are only very limited cases under the Armenian civil code when a gift can be revoked (when the recipient encroaches on the life of the donor, his family members or close relatives, injures the donor or the recipient’s behavior can result in the irreversible loss of the property that has high intangible value for the donor). In contrast, when making a will, the owner of a property (the testator) retains ownership during his lifetime. The will becomes effective only after the death of the testator. As a consequence, the testator has the right to revoke, amend, or supplement a will or simply make a new one at any time.
What is intestate succession?
Insofar as the inheritance is not determined by will, heirs are called to inheritance in accordance with the priority (class) set by the Civil Code of Armenia.
The heirs of each succeeding class acquire the right to inheritance when there are no heirs of a proceeding class, or such heirs did not accept or refused to accept the inheritance, or they have been excluded.
The heirs of the same priority class inherit in equal shares.
Who has the priority to inherit?
The heirs inherit in accordance with the following priority classes:
Children, the spouse, and the parents of the decedent belong to the first priority class. Grandchildren of the decedent may inherit by right of representation (i.e. if their parent dies before the opening of the inheritance, they can take their parent’s place).
Sisters and brothers belong to the second priority class. Children of brothers and sisters (nephews and nieces) may inherit by right of representation.
Grandmothers and grandfathers belong to the third priority class.
Brothers and sisters of the parents belong to the fourth priority class. First cousins of the decedent inherit by right of representation.
Heirs by statute include disabled individuals who have been under the decedent’s care for at least 1 year prior to his death. If there are other heirs by statute, they inherit in equal shares together with the heirs of the class that is called to inheritance.
The rights of a spouse
The rights of a spouse to inheritance are not affected by his or her share in the community property of spouses. Only the share of the deceased spouse forms part of the inheritance.
The rights of adopted children and adoptive parents
Adopted children and adoptive parents and their relatives have the same rights as biological children and parents.
If there are no heirs, the ownership of the property transfers to the community of the decedent’s last place of residence.
What is the time period for accepting the inheritance?
The inheritance may be accepted within 6 months following the death of the deceased.
If the right of a person to accept the inheritance arises after the refusal by an heir of an inheritance, they may accept the inheritance in the course of the remaining six-month period indicated above or if that period is less than three months, then within three months.
If the right of a person to accept the inheritance arises after the nonacceptance by another heir of the inheritance, the inheritance may be accepted within three months after the passage of the six-month period indicated above.
After the expiration of this period, the inheritance can be accepted by the consent of all the heirs who have accepted the inheritance in due course or if compelling reasons are shown for missing the time period.
How can you accept the inheritance?
Acceptance of inheritance is possible in two ways:
By submitting a statement to that effect to a notary at the place of opening of the inheritance (normally that place is the deceased’s last place of residence). It is possible to submit the statement through a representative.
By effectively assuming possession or control of the property; in particular by:
taking measures for the preservation and protection of the property from encroachment or claims of third parties;
paying the costs for the maintenance of the property;
paying the decedent’s debts or receiving payments due to the decedent from third parties.
How can an heir demonstrate that he has effectively assumed possession or control of the inheritance?
Oftentimes, individuals fail to formalize their acceptance of the inheritance within 6 months after the decedent’s death. If that is the case, they, as an alternative, can prove the fact of having effectively assumed possession or control of a property. For that purpose, they can produce such evidence as receipts of utility bills or taxes, contracts, witness testimony and so forth. Normally, the fact of having assumed possession or control of a property is established by a court. Although, with compelling evidence, some notaries may also, in practice, establish the fact that an heir (or a beneficiary) has accepted the inheritance and issue a certificate of acceptance.
There is no inheritance tax in Armenia.
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