Well, how does it work in Serbia?

Law of Inheritance

Inheritance law is the branch of law dealing with issues related to estate, order of inheritance, issues related to forced estate, wills (testaments), agreements on assignment and distribution of property during lifetime and contract on lifelong maintenance.

All legal heirs are grouped in orders of inheritance. The principles of exclusion and succession apply to these orders, so that the heirs of closer order exclude the heirs of the further orders. In case there are no heirs who could and would inherit the property, the last heir in the line of succession is the Republic of Serbia.

The first order – The first order constitutes the children of the decedent (natural and civil – adoptees) and the spouse and they inherit in equal shares.

The second order – The second order constitutes the spouse of the decedent, the parents of the decedent and their descendants. The spouse of the decedent inherits one half of the estate, and the other half is divided among the parents of the decedent in equal shares so that each inherits one fourth.

The third order – The third order includes grandmothers and grandfathers of the decedent (father’s line and mother’s line). The whole estate is divided into two shares: one belongs to the father’s line and the other belongs to the mother’s line. One half of the share belonging to one line is then divided between the grandmother and grandfather so that each of them inherits one fourth. In case one heir is incapable or unwilling to inherit the estate, his/her fourth belongs to his/her descendants with full application of the right of representation. If grandparents of one line deceased before the decedent, and have no other descendents (or the descendents may not or do not want to inherit the estate) , the estate which would be inherited by their line passes on the other line, so that it is inherited by the grandfather and grandmother of the other line and their descendents.

The fourth order – If there are no heirs of the third order who could and would inherit the estate, the estate is divided among the heirs of the fourth order – great grandfathers and great grandmothers of the decedent who inherit an equal share – one eighth. The right of representation in the fourth order is excluded.

Other orders – After great grandfathers and great grandmothers of the decedent, the estate is inherited by remote relatives, in order, according to the rules of inheritance by their great grandmothers and great grandfathers.

Probate proceedings are, as a rule, initiated by the competent court ex officio, after it has been informed about the death of the decedent (competent registry provides a death certificate). An interested party (heir, creditor, legatee, administrator and other person) may submit evidence of the decedent’s death to the court and therefore practically initiate the commencement of the probate proceedings.  The competent court means the court in charge of the decedent’s place of residence or immovable property.

Basic preconditions for inheritance are: death of the decedent, existance of estate, existance of heirs and legal basis (act or will (testament)).

In the Republic of Serbia Inheritance Act is legally in effect (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 46/95 and 101/2003 – decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia) regulating the following areas: the subject matter of inheritance, legal heirs / beneficiaries, forced heirship, will (testament), delivery, contracts and agreements in inheritance law (agreements on assignment and distribution of property during lifetime and contract on lifelong maintenance), division of estate.