Inheritance Procedures for Assets Located in Japan, such as Real Estate, for those Living Outside Japan

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These days, it is not uncommon for foreign nationals to own assets, such as real estate, while living outside Japan. When such a person dies, the inheritance process begins and procedures for inheritance of the property in Japan become necessary. However, you might wonder whether there are any difficulties involved in these inheritance procedures for someone living outside Japan? For example, you may wonder about the following:

  • What do I need to do for these inheritance procedures in Japan?
  • What documents do I need to prepare?
  • Who should I ask to represent me in these inheritance procedures?

Kobe Legal Partners has been assisting with inheritance procedures in Japan at the request of foreign lawyers and individuals. If you are outside Japan, please leave the inheritance procedures for assets in Japan to the Kobe Legal Partners Shisho-shi Law Office!

Inheritance Procedures for Real Estate Located in Japan

In Japan, a real estate registration is maintained for each parcel of land and building, which contains information about the owner of the property described on the registration.  When an owner of real estate inherits, it is necessary to change the identity of the owner on the real estate registration to that of the heir (inheritance registration).

The application for the inheritance registration needs to be made as quickly as possible. This is because inheritance registration is now compulsory and must be done within three years of the start of inheritance. In addition, if you want to sell the inherited property, you must first register the inheritance and have it put it in the name of the heir.

Inheritance Procedures for Assets other than Real Estate

For assets other than real estate, such as bank deposits, certain procedures must be followed based on the type of asset.

For example, for bank deposits, you can submit documents to each bank to proceed with the inheritance of the account.

Since currently, non-residents are not allowed to open accounts in Japanese banks, if the heirs also live outside of Japan, the bank accounts in Japan will need to be closed and the entire balance of the funds in the accounts sent to the heirs [to an overseas bank account].

If property taxes and management fees for the real estate are withdrawn from your bank account, you may need to choose someone to be the custodian of the bank account in order to avoid losing your bank account.

What Documents are Needed for Inheritance Procedures?

In Japanese inheritance procedures, the following documents are required to prove the following:

  1. That the decedent has died.
  2. The family relationship between the heirs and the decedent
  3. That there are no other heirs.

The actual documents that need to be prepared vary case-by-case. For the actual procedure, we will ask you what kind of documents you have, and then go from there to prepare the necessary documents. 

Who Should Represent You?

Neither real estate registration procedures nor bank inheritance procedures anticipated inheritance from outside Japan. For that reason, both the legal affairs bureaus and banks that handle real estate registration may have questions each time an unclear arises, and in some cases, the procedure may be halted. Therefore, unless the specialist is familiar with inheritance procedures involving issues outside Japan, the inheritance procedure may not proceed smoothly even if you ask the specialist to represent you.  

Kobe Legal Partners has extensive experience in inheritance procedures in Japan, and has been retained by individuals and legal professionals from abroad. Please contact Kobe Legal Partners about the inheritance procedures for assets located in Japan when you live outside Japan. 

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