The Civil Procedure Law

Latvia’s inheritance laws affect everyone who owns property in Latvia.

The main laws are: The Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, Civil Law, Notary law; Civil Procedure Law; Law On Orphan’s Courts; Land Register Law and Immigration Law and acts of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Latvia’s constitution “Satversme” adopted in 1922 provides that:

* Foreign nationals are not treated differently, and are subject to the same laws as the citizens of Latvia.
* Everyone has the right to own property.
* Property shall not be used contrary to the interests of the public.
* Property rights may be restricted only in accordance with law.
* Expropriation of property for public purposes shall be allowed only in exceptional cases on the basis of a specific law and in return for fair compensation.

The Civil Law of Latvia (Civillikums) was adopted in 1938 and was reinforced step by step until 1992. Civillikums regulates the following main issues of civil legislation: Family Law, Inheritance Law, Property Law and Law on Obligations.

The Civil Law states that:

* A whole estate comprises all immovable property located in Latvia which may be transferred to others, and which, at the time of death, was owned by the deceased (who is called an estate-leaver).

* The right to enter into the whole of the rights and obligations pertaining to the estate of the deceased is called the right of inheritance. A person who has such a right is called an heir.

* Legal persons who the estate-leaver has affirmed in his/her instruction in contemplation of death, by making them heirs, and bequeathing them property, also have the capacity to inherit. Such legal persons, upon their affirmation or general registration, are considered as heirs from the day the succession is opened.

The Civil Procedure Law (Civilprocesa likums) adopted on 14 October 1998, has replaced the older Civil Procedure Code.

The Civil Procedure Law regulates the procedural issues of all levels of courts in Latvia. Regulations for accepting an inheritance are fixed in the Civil Procedure Law. The Civil Procedure Law states that, if the heirs have not declared their intention to accept the inheritance, the creditors and legatees of the estate-leaver, as well as substitutes and successors, may submit to the court which has jurisdiction over the estate matter, an application to require the heirs to declare their position regarding acceptance of the inheritance.

Immigration Law defines the right of a foreigner to request a visa.

A foreigner, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the Immigration Law, has the right to request a visa if it is necessary for him/her to manage immovable property in Latvia belonging to him/her, or to accept an inheritance which is located in Latvia.

Since Latvia joined the Schengen area, Latvia’s representations abroad have commenced the issue of uniform or “Schengen Visas”, valid throughout the entire territory of the Schengen states. The maximum period a foreign national can stay in the Schengen area, with a Schengen visa, is 90 days in any half-year, counting from the first date of entry.

If a foreign national needs to stay in Latvia for more than 90 days in any half-year, then, depending on the situation, he/she must obtain a national long-term visa or residency permit. A long-term visa is valid only for domicile in Latvia, as well as for transit of other Schengen states for the purpose of entry into Latvia.
Notary law defines the conduct of inheritance proceedings.

A sworn notary commences inheritance proceedings after the following inheritance submissions have been received:

* Acceptance of an inheritance;
* Confirmation of the right of inheritance;
* The coming into legal effect of the last will instruction instrument;
* Renunciation of an inheritance;
* Reading of the last will instruction instrument;
* Refusal of a testamentary inheritance;
* Proclamation;
* Invitation of heirs;
* Protection of an estate.

Inheritance submissions must be received within one year of the death of the deceased by a sworn notary who is practising in the operational territory of the regional court in the last place of residence of the estate-leaver.

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