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International Inheritance

Simple steps from Navias for preparation and problem resolution

Preparation Step 1
To begin with, verify
whether it is possible
to initiate action
in Japan.
Preparation Step 2
Understand when a
case falls under
Preparation Step 3
Learn more about
Preparation Step 4
Understand counseling
flow and fees of Navias
and make an
Go to Navias
Check case studies
and be mentally

Preparation Step 1

Verify if it is possible to initiate action in Japan.
Action can be taken in Japan for the following

When dispute arise among inheritors, in order to initiate procedure for division of an estate at a Japanese court, the Japanese court must hold adjudicative jurisdiction.

[Spouse?-Deceased person(Inheritee)]-[Heirs with the right to inherit estate(Inheritee)]-[Child?-Child]
The place of domicile of the deceased
person is in Japan.
Generally, if the legal address of the deceased person at the time of commencement of inheritance (time of death of the deceased person) was within Japan, Japan has adjudicative jurisdiction.
In cases other than the above...
There are cases where adjudicative jurisdiction will be given to Japan under circumstance other than the above.
・The inheritee is missing and had held domicile in Japan previously.
・All of the parties involved agree for the proceedings to be carried out in Japan.
Governing Law
If action can be initiated in Japan, evaluate law of which country will apply in proceedings.
Begin checking Does a will exist? Is the will valid? Inherit estate in accordance with the contents of the will. Act as agent to withdraw bank deposits, apply for change to registered name of real-estate or execute probation of the will. Distribution of estate: apply the law of the country of nationality of the deceased. [Renvoi] However, after review the law of relevant country, Renvoi Japanese law may be applied in some cases. Validity of a will is determined in accordance with the Act on the Law Applicable to the form of WIlls. Please consult Navias on this matter.

Preparation Step 2

Understand conditions for an international
inheritance. Following cases are international

In an international inheritance, in addition to laws of Japan, laws of other countries will be involved.

Inheritance property is located overseas
property is
located overseas
Some of the heirs are residing overseas
Some of the
heirs are
residing overseas
Either the inheritee or an heir is a foreign national
Either the inheritee
or an heir is
a foreign national

Preparation Step 3

Deepen your understanding on
will and international inheritance

"Act on the Law Applicable to the Form of Wills" shall apply to the formalities of a will when a will is written. However, the scope of formal validity of a will has been widened in the spirit to respect the will of the deceased.
International inheritance will arise for any person owning properties abroad. In order to circumvent troubles for the heirs to identify estate properties or to avoid heirs from contesting against one another as much as possible, consider making a will and a statement of assets held overseas.

When a will is valid

  1. 1.Law of the place where the will is made.
  2. 2.Law of the country where the testator had nationality, domicile of habitual residence, either at the time he/she made the will or at the time of his/her death.
  3. 3.With respect to a will pertaining to real-estate, the law of the country where the real-estate is located shall apply.
A will is deemed formally valid if valid under any of the laws 1. through 3 above.

Formation and
effect of a will

Law of native country of the testator at the time of formation of the will apples to formation and effect of a will and in a case of nullification of a will, law of the native country of the testator at the time of nullification shall apply.

Make a will before an
international inheritance

Making a will can facilitate smooth execution of inheritance proceedings even in a case where foreign laws become applicable. For assets held in Japan and distinct from assets held overseas, Navias recommends making a separate will pertaining just to assets held in Japan in accordance with Japanese law.

Prepare a statement of
assets held overseas before
an international inheritance

In a case where the inheritee owned assets overseas and the heir is residing in Japan, it is very difficult for the heir to identify such overseas assets. Therefore, preparing a statement of assets held overseas beforehand becomes important.

Preparation Step 4

Flow for counseling with NAVIAS

After determining whether action can be initiated in Japan and identifying problem resolution procedures available, consider contacting Navias on specific issues.

Make an appointment for legal counseling

Make an appointment for legal counseling

Make an appointment for legal counseling using the Inquiry Form or by e-mail.
Please provide questions you have and background information pertaining to your problem by e-mail and attach data of reference materials. In some cases, problems can be resolved just by e-mail.


Resolution by e-mail or
multiple consultations shall be charged at hourly rates.

Initial counseling

Initial counseling

Navias will hear the details about the problem you are facing at the initial counseling session. The first session will be charged by our hourly rate. Please bring information on the status of both spouses as Navias will need to know those in carrying out our detailed investigation.


Charged at hourly rates.

Proposal for problem settlement by Navias

Proposal for problem settlement by Navias

Navias will determine whether proceeding can be initiated in Japan or not and law of which country will apply. If Japanese law is applicable, Navias will consider procedure that will be enforceable in the country of the other party. In a case where laws of the other country will take precedence, Navias may require about 1 month for research. Thereafter, Navias lawyers will propose procedure to be taken and advise the client. Should the client decide to proceed with litigation or negotiation, the client shall be requested to officially retain Navias.

Formal request

Formal request

Upon receiving formal notification of intent to retain Navias, Navias and the client shall enter into a contract of mandate and our lawyers will begin legal work to resolve the problem. Progress will be reported as needed.

Fee Schedule

Flat Fee is available for attorney fee.

Click here to reach Navias to inquire or for making an appointment.

Kindly refer to the following fee schedule for legal counseling.

Navias offers 4 major benefits
and full-fledged support.

  • Near-by and Convenient
    Localized to Yokosuka
  • Payment in
    US $ accepted
  • PayPal
  • US Embassy
    Listed Law Office
  • Can a lawyer be present at a mediation?
    Navias lawyer can attend as an attorney of the client.
  • Can I learn of the proceedings of a trial or mediation?
    Navias shall report on the proceeding by e-mail or documents.
  • The client is residing outside Japan.
    Navias can proceed to process an action using e-mail, Skype or telephone.
  • Communication in English
    When an international inheritance case occurs, communication in foreign language(s) becomes necessary to communicate with other heirs of foreign nationalities and experts of foreign countries. In the event of needs to communicate in foreign language with other heirs and experts of foreign countries arising, NAVIAS lawyers will communicate in English.
  • Inheritance proceedings in accordance with a foreign law
    When an international inheritance occurs and a foreign law applies, knowledge of said foreign law will be required. Since one rarely experiences inheritance in a lifetime, most clients do not have detailed knowledge, nor do many lawyers have working knowledge on inheritance proceedings under foreign laws.
    In the event of an occurrence of an international inheritance, Navias lawyers can by themselves, or in collaboration with experts on the particular foreign law, handle the matter.
    Needless to add, NAVIAS lawyers are available to handle general inheritance cases under Japanese law in Japanese language that do not involve foreign laws and languages.

Click here to reach Navias to inquire or for making an appointment.

Navias Legal Trivia for Your Benefit

Assuming Japanese laws are applicable.

  • Inheritable estates may vary if an heir had made special contribution in life toward the inheritee (called "extent of contribution") or, inversely, the inheritee had given an inheritor special benefits while alive (called "special benefit").
  • Even if a will exists that bestows all of the estate of a deceased to one particular individual, the spouse and children, who are the heir at law, can receive a certain portion of the estate (the legally secured portion).
  • In the event of the heirs unable to reach an agreement on voluntary distribution of the estate, the estate will be distributed through arbitrated or adjudicated inheritance distribution.

Case Studies

The following are cases picked out from many cases that Navias handled in the past

One of the heirs resides in Korea and cannot be contacted

Navias took on a case of arbitrated heritance distribution where one of the heirs was a Korean residing in Korea with whom contact had been lost. Navias sent documents by E.M.S. to an address in Korea that was recorded on alien registration, but the documents were returned. Having no other means to find an address, Navias proceeded to file an "Application to be appointed as absentee property custodian" on account of unknown address of the heir with a court in Japan and successfully concluded an arbitrated distribution of the estate.

Withdrawing funds deposited with Japanese banks

The inheritee was a female holding American nationality who died leaving deposits with a Japanese bank. She did not leave a will and her heirs were located in Japan and in America. American law (state law) was the governing law for inheritance, but according to said American law, it turned out to be a case where the law of the country where an inheritance is located will apply for said inheritance. Therefore, heirs residing in America produced a "Certificate of assignment of share of inheritance" for the heirs residing in Japan. Navias negotiated with the bank and succeeded in having bank deposits released.

Leave assets to wife through a will.

The client was an American living in Japan for many years. He had bank deposits and owned real-estate in Japan. He desired to have his wife inherit assets and contacted Navias on making a will.
Navias produced a will by notarized document designating the wife as the executor of the will, thereby facilitating the wife to change the name of registered title holder of real-estate and withdraw bank deposits smoothly after the death of the client.
The will was written in Japanese, but Navias also prepared an English version and the client was given ample opportunity to review the contents of his will.

Click here to reach Navias to inquire or for making an appointment.