What we mainly do is help you prepare an “Agreement on Division of Inheritance”, which you will need to change the ownership of real estate and for bank procedures. To make this document, heirs, who have the right to receive some portion of the inheritance property, must be chosen. This is done by collecting the necessary “koseki” (family registers). We undertake this time-consuming work for you and collect them in the shortest possible time.
Commencement of Inheritance
Inheritance commences at the time of death of the ancestor (the deceased); however, the commencement of the term within which you can submit a “notification of renunciation of inheritance” or an “application of limited recognition” should be the day you come to learn about the inheritance.
Notification of Death
You need to notify the local municipality office of the death of the ancestor within 7 days of the date of his/her passing. After this notification has been made, the date of death is written on his/her “certificate of residence” This document functions as proof of the death of the ancestor. The “Notification of Death” form is usually found at local municipality offices and hospitals.
Freezing of Bank Accounts
You need to submit the following documents to be processed:
・Certificate of Death from the hospital
・Notification of Death (a bank form)
・Certificate of Residence (Juminhyo) of the deceased
・Family register record (Koseki tohon) which shows the relationship between the deceased
and the heir
Confirming the Heirs
In order to proceed with bank paperwork or a real estate ownership change application, you need to confirm who the heirs are. Only heirs have the right to engage in an agreement on the division of the inheritance and to sign the bank forms, which are usually called “Request Paper for Inheritance Procedure” (“Souzoku tetsuzuki iraisho”). Generally speaking, heirs are the spouse and/or children of the deceased, so it is common to assume that there are no other heirs other than family members. However, there might be other children about whom you have never known. Therefore, the banks and Legal Affairs Bureau (Houmukyoku), which takes care of real estate registers, require documents such as Family Register Records (koseki) as objective evidence. The necessary documents in order to confirm the heirs are the following:
・Family Register Record of the deceased (koseki)
・Withdrawal Family Record of the deceased (joseki)
・Original Source of Re-established Family Register (kaiseigenkoseki)
In other words, you need to collect ALL the records of the deceased, from his/her birth to the death. You might not be able to collect all the documents listed above at the counter of the municipality office where the deceased lived at the time of death. Family Register Records are issued at the offices of the municipality where the deceased’s “permanent domicile” (honseki) is located, so you first need to know the location of his/her final permanent domicile. Once you locate his/her final permanent domicile, you must begin a potentially lengthy process of tracing the family registers all the way back to the earliest one. He/she might have changed his/her permanent domicile for various reasons, such as when he/she got married. In cases like this (which in fact occur quite frequently), there will be a few different municipality offices at which you need to request an issuance of the deceased’s family records. Usually, if the municipality office is far from the place where you live, you can send a request by mail (not email). However, if there is a mistake on the request form or the explanation is not accurate, you will have wasted your time, energy and money. It would be much smarter for you to leave this matter to us, as we are experts in this area.
Assessment of Inherited Properties
Inherited properties include, but are not limited to:
・Land ・・・・・・・・・・・Calculate the value based on “roadside land value” (rosenka)
determined by the National Tax Agency
・House ・・・・・・・・・・The value written on the “Certificate of Assessed Value for Real Estate
Tax” (hyoukagaku syoumeisho)
・Deposit in Bank ・・・・・ The amount written on the “Certificate of Outstanding Balance”
・Vehicle ・・・・・・・・・・・The price calculated by the equation:
(Price of the same vehicle purchased new) – (Depreciation amount)
・Jewelry and Art ・・・・・・・・Appraisal value by experts
・Securities ・・・・・・・・・・There are a few different ways to evaluate listed stocks, stocks in the
process of being listed, stocks with no market value, interest-bearing
bonds and discount bonds.
・Golf club membership ・・・・・There are different ways to evaluate this depending on
whether or not it has a market value
Agreement on Division of Inheritance
Once all the heirs are determined, the Agreement on Division of Inheritance is ready to be executed. This agreement must be signed by all the heirs; otherwise you will not be able to use this document when you process bank procedures or real estate ownership procedures. Failure to do so may allow a person who was excluded from the agreement to later raise an objection. Hence, it is necessary to determine the heir and inheritance property BEFORE the execution of this agreement.
Even though it is best if all heirs get together at the same place and time, it is possible to execute this agreement without getting together. Namely, you can send the written agreement to other heirs for them to sign and send back to you.
As mentioned above, since this Agreement on Division of Inheritance is an important and necessary document for bank procedures and real estate ownership procedures, the information regarding inheritance properties and heirs must be accurate.
In Japan, not only signatures but also registered seals are often required for important legal or property transactions. A “registered seal” (jitsuin) means a seal (hanko) which is registered at the office of the municipality where you reside in Japan. For the heirs who do not live in Japan and do not have a registered seal, a certificate of signature or an affidavit can be used. (Please ask us for more information as we have expertise in this area.)
Change of Ownership of Bank Accounts
Change of bank account ownership takes more time than you would expect. The following steps must be completed:
1. Visit a bank and obtain the necessary forms to fill out.
2. Collect all the Family Register Records (koseki, joseki and kaiseigenkoseki) of the deceased.
3. Have all the heirs sign the bank agreement forms, such as the “Request Paper for
4. If the bank requires, execute the Agreement on Division of Inheritance.
5. Submit all the documents to the bank. (Some banks accept submission by mail.)
The above steps usually differ slightly from one bank to another. It is not uncommon for a collection of documents to be accepted at A bank, but not at B bank. As experienced professionals, we have dealt with many different banks and have accumulated valuable know-how regarding the processing of bank paperwork. You will not waste your time or energy nor face unnecessary stress.
Change of Real Estate Ownership
Applications for change of real estate ownership must be submitted to the Legal Affairs Bureau (houmukyoku). Usually, an Agreement on Division of Inheritance and an Inheritance Relationship Chart (a chart which looks like a family tree) must be attached to this application, and these documents are in the scope of something Gyoseishoshi Lawyers can deal with. However, the tasks of preparing the proxy application and the application form itself are in the exclusive scope of a Judicial Scrivener(Shihoushoshi). We have a partnership with a trustable and skillful Judicial Scrivener in order to deal with this matter in a timely and efficient manner.
Filing Inheritance Tax
Under the tax law currently implemented in Japan, in only approximately 6% of cases are heirs required to file inheritance tax. The reason is that the Inheritance Tax Law provides what is called “Basic Exemption”. Thus, you will not have to file nor pay inheritance tax if the total value of the inheritance property does not exceed the amount calculated by the following formula:
For cases after January 1, 2015 :
30,000,000 yen + (6,000,000 yen × the number of heirs by law)
For cases before January 1, 2015 :
50,000,000 yen + (10,000,000 yen × the number of heirs by law)
If the inheritance property exceeds the amount calculated by on of the formulas above, you need to file inheritance tax with a tax office within 10 months of the death of the deceased. Also, if the deceased filed his/her income taxes (kakutei shinkoku) every year, you need to file a quasi-final return (jun kakutei shinkoku) within 4 months of his/her passing. These are in the scope of Tax Lawyers, and we have a partnership with an experienced tax lawyer in this field.