Inheritance proceedings are conducted before a court of law or notary public after a person's death, and you may lodge an appeal or a complaint against the decision taken in the proceedingsInheritance proceedings are regular court proceedings which are conducted when a person dies. They are initiated when a court receives the deceased person’s death certificate, extract from the register of deaths or other equivalent document.
The following needs to be established in inheritance proceedings:
- The heirs
- What the inheritance includes
- The rights of individual heirs and other persons.
If the inheritance proceedings have not been conducted (for example, because the court in charge of the inheritance matter has not received the deceased person’s death certificate or an equivalent document) and no decision on the inheritance has been adopted, but the deceased person had assets, you can apply to the municipal court having territorial jurisdiction to initiate the inheritance proceeding. In this case, you should enclose the required documents:
- The death certificate or other proof of the deceased person's death
- The last will
- Documents pertaining to the deceased person's assets, e.g. an extract from the land register.
Court jurisdictionTerritorial jurisdiction for the inheritance proceedings is determined according to the deceased person's permanent residence at the time of death, and in the alternative according to their place of temporary residence, the place where the majority of their estate is located in Croatia, or according to the place where the deceased person was registered in the register of citizenship.
The municipal court; i.e. the notary public as a court commissioner, is competent to conduct the inheritance proceedings.
Inheritance hearingThe court will schedule the inheritance hearing. The court will invite interested persons to the inheritance hearing, as well as persons who could legally claim the right to inherit in case there is a will, as well as the executor of the will if appointed. Interested persons are also invited to submit the written will or the oral will document if it is in their possession to the court or to indicate witnesses of the oral will.
Inheritance statementAt the inheritance hearing, the court will hear all relevant issues important to take a decision in the inheritance proceedings, and in particular the right to the inheritance, the size of the inheritance share and the right to legacies. As a rule, the court takes the decision on the rights after allowing the interested persons to make the necessary statements.
Heirs accept or renounce inheritance by making an inheritance statement. Everyone is authorized, but no one is required to make an inheritance statement. If you have not made a statement on renunciation of the inheritance, it is considered that you want to be the heir. If you make a valid statement on accepting the inheritance, you can no longer renounce it. The court will not require an inheritance statement from you, but you can give it orally before the court in charge of the inheritance matter or before any other municipal court, or you can make it by submitting a certified document to the court in charge of the inheritance matter.
The statement on renunciation of the inheritance may be made from the moment of death of the deceased person; that is, from the moment of opening of the succession until the adoption of the first-instance decision. Such a statement cannot be made before the death of the person whose estate is the subject-matter of inheritance. If you do not state that your statement pertains to what you are entitled by law, under the last will or as the compulsory share, it is considered that your statement pertains to the inheritance on any ground. You can renounce the inheritance on your own behalf and on behalf of your descendants. If you do not state that you are only renouncing the inheritance on your own behalf, it is considered that you are also renouncing it on your descendants’ behalf. The statement on renunciation does not apply to subsequently discovered assets. Renouncing one’s inheritance in favour of a certain heir is not considered renunciation but a statement of assignment of one’s share in the inheritance.
Decision on the inheritanceAfter the end of the inheritance hearing, the court adopts a decision on the inheritance, which determines who is the deceased person’s heir and which rights are acquired by other persons. The final decision establishes what the inheritance includes, the heir, the heir’s share in the inheritance, whether the right to the inheritance is restricted or encumbered and how, whether there are any rights to legacies and what they are, as well as which rights are acquired by other persons.
The court will deliver its decision on the inheritance to all heirs and legatees, as well as to persons who claimed the inheritance in the proceedings. The court will deliver its final decision to the competent tax authority and the competent land register court no later than 15 days from the end of the month in which the decision became final. In the decision on the inheritance, the court will order that entries be made in accordance with the rules of the land registration law once the decision on the inheritance becomes final.
The findings of the final decision on the inheritance can only be challenged by someone who, pursuant to the provisions of the Succession Act, is not bound by the finality of the decision on the inheritance, and only by means of litigation against the persons in whose favour the challenged findings are.
Appeal and complaintThe decision of the first-instance court may be appealed, unless otherwise provided by law, within 15 days from the delivery of the first-instance decision. Decisions against which a complaint may be lodged; i.e. the appeal and the decisions of the second-instance court have to be reasoned.
If the decision on the inheritance was adopted by a notary public as a court commissioner, you may lodge a complaint with the notary public within eight days from the date of delivery of the decision. The notary public is obliged to deliver your complaint (together with the file) to the competent court without any delay.
The complaint is then decided by a judge who can:
- Reject the complaint
- Uphold the notary public’s decision in full or in part
- Set aside the notary public’s decision in full or in part.
No independent appeal may be lodged against the decision of the court by which the decision of the notary public was set aside in full or in part. The decision on the complaint will be delivered to the parties and the notary public.
Proceedings before a notary publicThe court that has entrusted the case to the notary public continually supervises the notary’s work and may remove them from the inheritance proceedings on material grounds and conduct the proceedings itself or entrust it to another notary public.
When a notary public acts as a court commissioner in inheritance proceedings, they do not charge the notarial fee but only their remuneration under the prescribed Tariff. Notaries public may not agree with the parties on the payment of the remuneration and costs other than as prescribed by the Tariff.
The amount of the remuneration depends on the estimated value of the inheritance, and more detailed information can be found in the Ordinance on the Amount of Remuneration and Reimbursement of Costs of a Notary Public Acting as a Court Commissioner in Inheritance Proceedings.
LitigationWhether the inheritance proceedings are conducted by a court or a notary public, the court will refer the parties to litigation or administrative proceedings if these facts are disputed:
- Facts on which one of their rights depends (e.g. facts on which the following depends: inheritance right, size of inheritance share, value of compulsory share or inclusion in inheritance share, justification of exclusion of compulsory heirs or existence of reasons for unworthiness, whether a person renounced the inheritance)
- Facts on the right to a legacy or some other right to the inheritance
- Facts on what the inheritance includes.
Depending on the nature of the disputed facts, the inheritance proceedings may be terminated or continued during litigation.
Cases when there is no hearingThere is no inheritance hearing if:
- Pursuant to the information available to the court, the deceased left no inheritance
- The deceased only left movables and rights equivalent to them, and none of the persons called to inherit require inheritance proceeding.