About foreigner’s last will and statement in Japan
As the cases of making last will and statement is getting more and more common in these years, some of the foreigners may consider if it is possible for them to leave a will and statement as well in Japan. What can be done to leave a will and statement? If a foreigner living in Japan wishes to leave a will, below procedures need to be considered: ①how to make a will and statement ②the legal actions in the will and statement ③each applicable law(which country’s law to obey) regarding will’s enactment and validity. Please confirm below to get further information regarding the will and statement of foreigners in Japan.
Applicable law to make a will and statement(method)
One’s will is recognized to be valid regarding method if it apply to either law form below. In many countries, a will statement should be made along strictly with the form regulated by the government, it is not acceptable to make in any other format. Please be aware that a will without the designated format is not valid. Though the law regarding methods of handwriting will statement have been relieved recently in Japan, but still it is not completely free to make it.
1.Law of place of the act
2.Law of place of testator’s citizenship as enactment of a will or death
3.Law of place of testator’s own address as enactment of a will or death
4.Law of place of testator’s own habitual residence as enactment of a will or dearth
5.Law of place of will regarding the location of real estates
Therefore, the foreigners living in Japan are able to make a will in the format (will by handwriting, will by notarized document etc.,) along with Japanese law (civil law).
Applicable law regarding the act in a will
Regarding inheritance, since there is necessity to follow the national law in the country of the decedent (Article 36 of Act on the General Rules regarding law adoption), the foreigners living in Japan have to follow their own country’s law regarding inheritance, even they are allowed to make a will along with Japanese format.
Applicable law regarding enactment of will and validity
Regarding the enactment of a will and validity, according to Article 37 of Act on the General Rules regarding law adoption, it is regulated to be “in accordance with national law of the testator’s own country as the enactment of will”. Enactment of a will indicates the will ability, defects of testator’s intention, validity indicates the issue of a will validity term, conditions and able to cancel.
Furthermore, as “depending on the national country” from Act on the General Rules regarding law adoption, even in the case Japanese law is not applied to, if the local national law stipulates that the applicable law of a will is the place of action (place of will), what is called violation, then Japanese law will be applied to. (Article 41 of Act on the General Rules regarding law adoption
Making will by Notarized Document in Japanese format
Should be made in Japanese（Article 27 of Notary Law）
Either of following : Certificate of seal registration, passport issued by the local government, certificate of alien registration （Article 28 of Notary Law）
2 witnesses are required
（４）Executor of a will
According to local national law
Documents prove the relationship between testator and legatee (For example the documents showing the parents of both is same), others depend on the kinds of property
It is possible for foreigners living Japan to leave a will in Japanese law format, however there still is necessity to confirm their local national law, since the validity is in accordance with how inheritance and will are stipulated in their local country’s law
For the countries close to Japan (distance and relationship), it would be easier to investigate. For example, those who have Korean nationality can legally leave a will in Japanese format according to violation. However, it would be more complicated in the case that local country’s law is not that completed.
Make handwriting will
The foreigners can also make their own handwriting will. Signature is permitted instead of seal for the foreigners (Act on Signature and Seals and Insolvency Certificate in Relation to Foreign Nationals) Furthermore, it is also permitted to make a will in foreign languages. However please be aware that a handwriting will needs to be verified in family court, therefore it is needed to designate a legal heir. It causes the issue of document format regarding designated legal heir. There is no exception that a handwriting will needs the verification, so it consequently cost the huge amount of cost and time even for Japanese from death to take over the property. For the foreigners, it would cost more time than Japanese to apply the verification to family court due to the necessity of preparing documents and researching law.
Making will by Notarized Document
It is possible for foreigners to make a will by Notarized Documents at Japanese notary public office, however it is only permitted in Japanese. If the applicant does not have enough Japanese language ability, it is allowed to make with interpreter, also needs 2 witnessed besides the interpreter. For a foreigner who has enough Japanese language skill, it will not be that difficult to make a will by Notarized Document
We have administrative scriveners who are experts regarding visa and laws, also the staff who can respond to provide advice regarding making a will in multiple foreign languages. Please feel free to contact us if you have any trouble making a will. We will be happy to support.
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