The Civil Code of the Russian Federation(with the Additions and Amendments of February 20, August 12, 1996,
October 24, 1997, July 8, December 17, 1999, April 16, May 15,
November 26, 2001, March 21, November 14, 26, 2002,
January 10, March 26, November 11, December 23, 2003)
Chapter 62. Succession by Will
Article 1118. General Provisions
1. Property can be disposed of on death only by means of a will.
2. The will can be created by a citizen who had his full dispositive capacity as of the time when it was created.
3. The will shall be created in person. The will cannot be created through a representative.
4. The will shall contain dispositions of only one citizen. The will shall not be created by two citizens or more.
5. The will is a one-party deal which creates rights and duties after the opening of the inheritance.
Article 1119. The Freedom of Will
1. The deceased shall be entitled to leave by will at his/her discretion property to any persons, to set heirs' shares in the estate in any way, to deprive one, several or all legal heirs of inheritance without indicating reasons for such a deprivation and also to include other dispositions in the will in compliance with the rules of the present Code concerning succession, to revoke or alter his/her created will. The freedom of the will shall be limited by the rules of compulsory share of estate (Article 1149).
2. The deceased shall not be obligated to inform anybody of the content, creation, alteration or revocation of a will.
Article 1120. The Right to Leave Any Property in a Will
The deceased shall be entitled to create a will containing dispositions relating to any property, in particular, a property that he/she might acquire in the future.
The deceased can dispose of his/her property or a portion thereof by means of one or several wills.
Article 1121. The Appointment of an Heir and an Alternate Heir in a Will
1. The deceased can create a will for the benefit of one or several persons (Article 1116) which are or are not his/her legal heirs.
2. In his/her will the deceased can indicate an alternate heir (can sub-appoint an heir) for the case of death of the heir appointed by him/her in the will or death of the legal heir prior to the opening of the inheritance or simultaneously with the deceased's death or after the opening of the inheritance but before accepting the inheritance or the heir's failure to accept the inheritance due to other reasons or refusal to accept it or lack of entitlement or the heir's being refused the inheritance as an unworthy heir.
Article 1122. The Shares of Heirs in Property Left by a Will
1. Property left by will to two or several heirs without their shares in the estate being specified and without an indication as to who is to take the specific items or rights from the estate shall be deemed left by will to heirs in equal shares.
2. In a will an indication of a portion of an indivisible item (Article 133) intended for each of the heirs in kind shall not cause the invalidity of the will. Such item shall be deemed left by will in shares corresponding to the value of these portions. The procedure for the heirs to use this indivisible item shall be established in compliance with the portions of the item intended for them in the will. In a certificate of the right to inheritance relating to an indivisible item left by will in shares in kind, the shares of the heirs and the procedure for use of such item, given the consent of the heirs, shall be specified in compliance with the present article. If a dispute between the heirs occurs, their shares and the procedure for use of the indivisible item shall be determined by a court.
Article 1123. The Secrecy of a Will
A notary, another person attesting to a will, translator, executor of the will and also a citizen who signs a will on the deceased's behalf shall not disclose information concerning the content of the will, its creation, alteration or revocation before the opening of the inheritance.
If the secrecy of a will is violated, the testator shall be entitled to claim reimbursement for moral harm and also use other remedies to protect civil rights as laid down in the present Code.
Article 1124. General Rules Concerning the Form of and Procedure for the Creation of a Will
1. The will shall be created in writing and attested by a notary. A will can be attested by other persons in the cases specified in Item 7 of Article 1125, Article 1127 and Item 2 of Article 1128 of the present Code. Failure to observe the rules established by the present Code as concerning the written form and attestation of a will shall cause the invalidity of the will.
A will can be drawn up in simple written form only in exceptional cases as specified in Article 1129 of the present Code.
2. If under the rules of the present Code witnesses are in attendance when a will is drawn up, signed and attested or when a will is passed to a notary the following persons shall not be such witnesses and shall not sign the will on the testator's behalf: a notary or other person who attests to the will;
a person being a beneficiary of the will or a testamentary trust, the spouse, children and parents of the person;
citizens without full dispositive capacity;
citizens with such physical disabilities that do not allow them to understand the essence of the event in full;
persons without a sufficient degree of command of the language in which the will is written, except for cases of a closed will.
3. In events when under the rules of the present Code the attendance of witnesses is compulsory when a will is drawn up, signed and attested or when a will is passed to a notary, the absence of a witness when the said actions are being committed shall cause the invalidity of the will and the lack of the witness's compliance with the provisions of Item 2 of the present article may be deemed a ground for the will's being recognised as void.
4. The will shall bear an indication of the place and date of its attestation, except for the case specified in Article 1126 of the present Code.
Article 1125. A Will Attested by a Notary
1. A will attested by a notary shall be signed by the testator or written by a notary on the testator's words. Technical facilities can be used to write or record a will (computer, typewriter etc.).
2. A will written by a notary on a testator's words shall be read in full by the testator in the presence of the notary before it is signed. If the testator cannot read the will by himself (herself) the notary shall read out the text for him/her, with a relevant annotation to this effect being entered in the will as including the reasons why the testator could not read the will by himself (herself).
3. The will shall be signed by the testator's own hand. If a testator, due to physical disability, grave illness or illiteracy, cannot sign a will by his/her own hand the will can be signed on his/her behalf on his/her request by another citizen with a notary in attendance. The will shall include the reasons why the testator could not sign the will by himself (herself) and also the full name and residential address of the citizen who signed the will on the testator's request, in compliance with the citizen's personal identity document.
4. A witness can be in attendance when a will is drawn up and attested by a notary if the testator so wishes. If a will is drawn up and attested with a witness in attendance it shall be signed by the witness and it shall bear an indication of the full name and residential address of the witness in compliance with the witness's personal identity document.
5. The notary shall warn the witness and also citizens who signs a will on the testator's behalf of the need for observing the will nondisclosure clause (Article 1123).
6. While attesting to a will the notary shall explain to the testator the content of Article 1149 of the present Code and enter a relevant annotation.
7. Where under law the officials of local government bodies and officials of consular institutions of the Russian Federation have a right to accomplish notarial actions the will can be attested by a relevant official instead of a notary, in compliance with the rules of the present Code concerning the form of a will, the procedure for notarial attestation of a will and secrecy of a will.
Article 1126. Closed Wills
1. The testator shall be entitled to create a will without providing other persons, including a notary, with the chance of familiarising himself with the content thereof (a closed will).
2. The closed will shall be hand-written and signed by the testator. Failure to observe these rules shall cause the invalidity of the will.
3. The closed will shall be passed in a sealed envelope by the testator to a notary in the presence of two witnesses who shall put their signatures on the envelope. The envelope signed by the witnesses shall be put into another envelope and sealed in the presence of the notary, who shall enter an annotation on the envelope with information on the testator from whom the notary has accepted the closed will, on the place and date of acceptance thereof, the full names and residential addresses of each of the witnesses in compliance with their personal identity documents. When the notary accepts the envelope with the closed will from the testator, the notary shall explain to the testator the content of Item 2 of the present article and Article 1149 of the present Code and shall enter a relevant annotation in the second envelope and shall also issue a document to the testator to confirm the acceptance of the closed will.
4. Upon the presentation of a certificate of death of a person who has created a closed will, a notary shall within 15 days after the presentation of the certificate open the envelope with the will in the presence of at least two witnesses and the persons concerned from among the legal heirs who expressed their desire to attend. After the opening of the envelope the text of the will contained therein shall be immediately read out by the notary, whereafter the notary shall draw up and sign together with the witnesses a protocol which acknowledges that the envelope with the will has been opened and that it contains the full text of the will. The original will shall be kept in the custody of the notary. A copy of the protocol attested by a notary shall be issued to the heirs.
Article 1127. Wills Qualifying as Wills Attested by a Notary
1. The following shall qualify as wills attested by a notary: 1) wills of citizens undergoing medical treatment in in-patient institutions, hospitals, other stationary medical treatment institutions or residing in old-age and disabled nursing houses attested by the chief physicians, deputy chief physicians in charge of medical work or physicians on duty at these in-patient institutions, hospitals and other stationary medical treatment institutions and also the chiefs of the hospitals, directors or chief physicians of old-age and disabled nursing houses;
2) wills of citizens who stay aboard vessels during their navigation, if such vessels navigate under the State Flag of the Russian Federation, attested by the captains of these vessels;
3) will of citizens who are in prospecting, Arctic or other similar expeditions, attested by the chiefs of these expeditions;
4) wills of military servicemen and in the places of deployment of military units where there are no notaries, also wills of civilians employed by these units, members of their families and members of the families of military servicemen, attested by the commanders of the military units;
5) wills of citizens staying at penitentiary institutions, attested by the chiefs of the penitentiary institutions.
2. A will qualifying as a will attested by a notary shall be signed by the testator in the presence of the person attesting to the will and of a witness, who shall also sign the will. As far as the rest is concerned, such a will shall be subject to the rules of Articles 1124 and 1125 of the present Code.
3. A will attested in compliance with the present article shall be forwarded, as soon as possible, by the person who has attested it to the place of abode of the testator via the justice bodies. If the person who has attested a will knows the place of abode of the testator the will shall be forwarded directly to a relevant notary.
4. If in any of the cases mentioned in Item 1 of the present article a citizen who intends to create a will expresses his/her intention to invite a notary for this purpose and there is a reasonable possibility for satisfying such an intention, the persons who enjoy under the said item the right of attesting a will shall do their best to invite a notary to the testator.
Article 1128. The Testamentary Disposition of Funds in Banks
1. The right to funds paid by a citizen as a bank deposit or in any other bank account of the citizen may be left by will or in compliance with the procedure set out in Articles 1124 - 1127 of the present Code or by means of creation of testamentary dispositions in writing in the branch of bank where the account is located. Such testamentary dispositions shall have the effect of a will attested by a notary in respect of the funds kept in the account.
2. Testamentary disposition of rights to funds in a bank shall be signed by the hand of the testator and include the date of creation and shall be attested by a bank official entitled to accept for execution the client's instructions concerning the funds in his/her account. The procedure for creation of testamentary dispositions in respect of funds in banks shall be set out by the Government of the Russian Federation.
3. Rights to funds in respect of which testamentary dispositions have been created in a bank shall be incorporated in the estate and be generally inherited in compliance with the rules of the present Code. These funds shall be handed out to heirs under a certificate of right to inheritance and in compliance therewith, except for the cases specified in Item 3 of Article 1174 of the present Code.
4. Accordingly, the rules of the present article shall be applicable to other credit organisations entitles to raise citizens' funds in deposit or other accounts.
Article 1129. Wills under Extraordinary Circumstances
1. A citizen who is in a situation that obviously threatens his/her life and who, by the virtue of prevailing extraordinary circumstances, is deprived of an opportunity to create a will under the rules of Articles 1124 - 1128 of the present Code may make his/her last wishes as to the disposition of his/her property in a simple written form. The citizen's last wishes set out in simple written form shall be deemed his/her will, if the testator has written a document in his/her own hand in the presence of two witnesses the content whereof evidences that it is a will.
2. A will created under the circumstances specified in Paragraph 1 of Item 1 of the present article shall no longer be valid if within one month after the termination of these circumstances the testator fails to create a will in any other form specified in Articles 1124 - 1128 of the present Code.
3. In accordance with the present article a will created under extraordinary circumstances shall be subject to execution only on the condition that a court acting on the request of the persons concerned confirms the fact that the will has been created under extraordinary circumstances. The said claim shall be filed before the expiry of the term set for acceptance of the inheritance.
Article 1130. The Revocation and Alteration of a Will
1. The testator shall be entitled to revoke or alter a will he/she has created, at any time after the creation thereof without an indication of the reason for the revocation or alteration. No one's consent is required for revoking or altering a will, in particular, of persons appointed as heirs in the will that is being revoked or altered.
2. The testator is entitled, by means of a new will, to revoke a previous will as a whole or to amend it by means of revocation or alteration of specific testamentary dispositions contained therein. A subsequent will not containing a direct indication concerning revocation of a previous will or specific testamentary dispositions contained therein shall revoke the previous will in full or in as much as it conflicts with the subsequent will.
A will fully or partially revoked by a subsequent will shall not be deemed restored if the subsequent will is revoked by the testator in full or in as much as the relevant portion is concerned.
3. In the case of invalidity of the subsequent will, succession shall take effect according to the previous will.
4. Also a will can be revoked by means of will revocation dispositions. The will revocation dispositions shall be created in the form established by the present Code for the creation of a will. The will revocation instructions shall be therefore subject to the rules of Item 3 of the present article.
5. A will created under extraordinary circumstances (Article 1129) can only revoke or alter the same kind of will.
6. Testamentary dispositions in a bank (Article 1128) can only revoke or alter testamentary dispositions concerning the disposition of funds in this bank.
Article 1131. Invalidity of a Will
1. In the event of violation of the provisions of the present Code causing the invalidity of a will, depending on the grounds for the invalidity, the will shall be deemed invalid by virtue of having been recognised as such by a court (a contentious will) or irrespective of such recognition (a will that is null and void).
2. A will can be recognised as void by a court on the complaint filed by a person whose rights or lawful interests are violated by the will. A will shall not be subject to contention before the opening of the inheritance.
3. Slips of the pen and other insignificant breaches of the procedure for the creation, signing or attestation of a will shall not serve as grounds for the invalidity of a will if a court has established that they do not affect the construction of the testator's will.
4. Both a will and its specific testamentary dispositions can be void. The invalidity of specific dispositions contained in a will shall not be deemed to affect the rest of the will if one can suppose that it would have been included in the will even if the void dispositions were not there.
5. The invalidity of a will shall not deprive the persons specified therein as heirs or beneficiaries of the right to succession by operation of law or under another will that is valid.
Article 1132. Construction of Wills
While constructing a will a notary, executor or court shall take into account the literal meaning of the words and expressions contained therein.
If the literal meaning of a provision of a will is vague it shall be established by means of comparison with other provisions and the sense of the will as a whole. In such cases the fullest exercise of the testator's will shall be ensured.
Article 1133. Execution of Wills
Execution of a will shall be effected by heirs under the will, except for cases when its execution is fully or partially effected by the executor of the will (Article 1134).
Article 1134. Executor of Wills
1. The testator may appoint a personal representative (executor) specified in the will to execute the will, irrespective of his/her being an heir or not. The citizen's consent to act as executor shall be expressed by the citizen by means of his signature in the will or in an application attached thereto or in an application filed with the notary within one month after the date of opening of the inheritance.
A citizen shall be deemed to have granted his/her consent to act a the executor of a will if he/she proceeds to execute the will within one month after the date of opening of the inheritance.
2. After the opening of an inheritance the court can relieve the executor of the will from his/her duties either on his/her own request or on the request of heirs if there are circumstances obstructing the execution of his/her duties.
Article 1135. The Powers of the Executor of the Will
1. The powers of the executor of a will shall be based on the will whereby he/she is appointed as executor and they shall be certified by a certificate issued by the notary.
2. Except as otherwise required by the will, the executor of the will shall take the measures required for executing the will, namely: 1) arrange for the passage of assets of estate to the heirs entitled thereto in compliance with the wishes of the testator expressed in the will and law;
2) take measures on his/her own or through the notary for preserving the estate and administering it in the interests of the heirs;
3) receive the amounts of money owed to the testator and other assets for the purpose of passing them to the heirs, unless the assets are subject to transfer to other persons (Item 1 Article 1183);
4) perform testamentary dispositions or demand that heirs perform under testamentary trust provisions (Article 1137) under provisions whereby they are to execute a duty (Article 1139).
3. The executor of a will shall be entitled to act in connection with the execution of the will in his own name, in particular, in court, other governmental bodies and institutions.
Article 1136. Reimbursement of Expenses Relating to the Execution of a Will
The executor of a will shall be entitled to receive a reimbursement on the account of the estate for the necessary expenses incurred in connection with execution of the will and also a remuneration on the account of the estate if there is a provision to this effect in the will.
Article 1137. Testamentary Trust
1. The testator is entitled to vest in one or several heirs a duty by will or by operation of law the execution of a duty of property nature for the benefit of one or several persons (beneficiaries) who acquire a right to claim execution of the duty (testamentary trust). A testamentary trust shall be established in the will.
A will may contain a testamentary trust only.
2. The object of the testamentary trust can be transferred to a beneficiary into his/her ownership, possession by another right in rem or use of an item incorporated in the estate, transfer to a beneficiary of an item in action incorporated in the estate, acquisition for a beneficiary and transfer thereto of another property, performance of specific work for him/her or the provision thereto of a specific service or the making of periodical payments for his/her benefit etc. In particular, an heir entitled to a residential house, an apartment or other housing accommodation may be vested by a testator with the duty to grant a right to use this facility or a part thereof to another person for the lifetime of such a person or for another term.
At a subsequent transfer of the title to assets of estate to another person the right of use of such assets granted by a testamentary trust shall remain in effect.
3. Relationships between a beneficiary (creditor) and an heir vested with the duty of executing a testamentary trust (debtor) shall be subject to the provisions of the present Code concerning liabilities, except as otherwise required by the rules of the present section and the essence of the testamentary trust.
4. The right to receive a testamentary trust shall be in effect for a three-year term after the date of opening of an inheritance and shall be non-transferable to other persons. However, an alternate beneficiary may be appointed together with a beneficiary in cases when the beneficiary dies before the opening of the inheritance or simultaneously with the testator or refuses to accept the testamentary trust, did not exercise his/her right to receive the testamentary trust or is deprived of the right to receive the testamentary trust in compliance with the rules of Item 5 Article 1117 of the present Code.
Article 1138. Execution of a Testamentary Trust
1. An heir vested with the duty to execute a testamentary trust shall execute it within the limits of the value of the portion of estate he/she took less the testator's debts relating to the heir. If an heir vested with the duty to execute a testamentary trust is entitled to a compulsory share of estate, his duty to execute the testamentary trust shall be limited to the value of the portion of estate he/she took which exceeds the amount of his/her compulsory share.
2. If the duty to execute a testamentary trust is vested in several heirs, such a gift shall be an encumbrance on the right of each of them to the estate commensurately to one's share in the estate, except as otherwise required by the will.
3. If a beneficiary dies before the opening of the inheritance or simultaneously with the testator or refused to receive a testamentary trust (Article 1160), had not exercised his/her right to receive the testamentary trust within a three-year term after the opening of the inheritance or was deprived of the right to receive the testamentary trust in compliance with the rules of Article 1117 of the present Code, the heir with the duty to execute the testamentary trust shall be relieved from the duty, except for cases when an alternate heir has been appointed for this heir.
Article 1139. Private Purpose Trust
1. In a will the testator may vest in one or several heirs a duty by will or by operation of law to commit an action of property or nonproperty nature aimed at attaining a commonly beneficial aim (private purpose trust). Such a duty may also be vested in the executor of a will on the condition that the will allocates a portion of assets of the estate for the purposes of execution of the private purpose trust. The testator is also entitled to vest in one or several heirs the duty of upkeeping domestic animals belonging to the testator and also of exercising the necessary supervision and care in respect thereof.
2. A private purpose trust whose object is actions of property nature shall be subject to the rules of Article 1138 of the present Code.
3. Persons concerned, the executor of the will and any of the heirs are entitled to claim in court the enforcement of a private purpose trust, except as otherwise required by the will.
Article 1140. Transfer of the Duty to Execute a Testamentary Trust or Private Purpose Trust to Other Heirs
If, as the result of the circumstances specified in the present Code the portion of the estate due to a heir vested with a duty to execute a testamentary trust or private purpose trust is transferred to other heirs the latter shall execute the testamentary trust or private purpose trust, except as otherwise required by the will or law.
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