1. Guidance of inheritance procedure in Japan (1) – Affidavit –

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Guidance of inheritance procedure in Japan (1) – Affidavit –

1. General required documents for inheritance procedure

In the field of inheritance practice in Japan, it is common for statutory heirs to be required to submit documents such as family registers (“Koseki Tohon”) and seal certificates (“Inkan Shomeisho”) when conducting inheritance procedures in Japan (ex. refund procedures for savings deposits at banks in Japan).

Similarly, when carrying out inheritance procedures (transfer of ownership) for Japanese real estate at the Legal Affairs Bureau, submission of these documents is also required.

However, family registers are only applicable to individuals holding Japanese citizenship, and foreign nationals who are heirs or beneficiaries cannot obtain and submit them.

Furthermore, foreign heirs who do not reside in Japan cannot register seals in Japan, and as a result, they cannot obtain and submit seal certificates for Japanese inheritance procedures.

In such cases, foreign heirs must substitute with other documents.

2. Documents foreign heirs should prepare

For Japanese citizens residing overseas, it is possible to obtain a signature certificate and/or a residence certificate at a Japanese embassy and use them as substitutes.

However, it may also be challenging for foreign heirs to obtain such documents at the Japanese embassy because of the lack of Japanese nationality.

In such cases, the alternative documents required by each Japanese bank vary, but generally, Affidavits or Statutory Declarations executed before a notary public in accordance with local laws are accepted.

For example, for Australian legal heirs, I have experienced that Statutory Declarations following the Statutory Declaration Act 1959 (Cth) or similar laws in each state have been accepted as alternative documents for completing inheritance procedures at Japanese banks.

In this scenario, the contents of the Affidavit or Statutory Declaration, including family relationships and the existence of a will, vary depending on each case.

Moreover, as a practical issue, bank representatives in Japan may be unaware of overseas circumstances, thus it is necessary to clearly explain and ensure their understanding of the role of Affidavits or Statutory Declarations as alternative documents.

In any case, if a Japanese bank insists on the submission of a seal certificate or signature certificate, it is necessary to try to persuade the bank to complete an inheritance process using other alternative documents without giving up.

We consistently provide legal support for such foreign heirs to proceed with inheritance procedures, so please feel free to contact us for assistance.

Lawyer Ken Takahashi

Email: k-takahashi@kensei-law.jp


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