PARTITION OF THE INHERITANCE IN BULGARIA
As long as there is only one heir there is absolutely no issue with the distribution of the estate of the deceased – but what happens if there are many heirs? The answer is provided by the Bulgarian law in the form of the dissolution of the heritage. The procedure of the partitioning of the inheritance is provided in chapter 5 of the Bulgarian inheritance law.
After the testator’s death, each heir holds a share of the testator’s property. The entity of assets may be dissolved by the partition of the estate of the deceased. In this way, the heirs obtain independent rights of property regarding specific objects of the testator’s estate. Each of the heirs obtains the right to request partitioning of the inherited estate. According to Article 69 (1) of the Bulgarian Inheritance Act, this right exists even if there has been a contrary agreement between the heirs or if a contrary disposition has been made by the testator.
The partitioning of the inheritance is subject of the following conditions:
First of all, the inherited estate must have been accepted by the heirs, given that inheritance can only be obtained after accepting by the heirs. The acceptance can be achieved also through a written declaration to the district court of the district where the inheritance has been opened – in this case the acceptance shall be entered into a specifically designated book. There is acceptance also when the heir conducts an act which undoubtedly reveals his intention to accept the inheritance. If one of the heirs does not accept the inheritance, the remaining heirs may appeal to the court to fix a term of acceptance. As provided in Article 75 (2), the partition of the inheritance is only valid if all heirs have participated. The persons entitled to be involved in the partition of inheritance are all heirs that accepted the inheritance and third parties in the hypothesis of a previous contract for the sale of the heritage. Legatees are not to take part in the partition. It is possible for the partition proceedings to be initiated only for a part of the estate of the deceased.
As provided in Article 69 (2), each heir can require his portion in kind, as far as this is possible. The inequality of portions shall be equalled with money. The properties which cannot be divided conveniently shall be sold by the means of a public auction. There are three different forms of partitioning of inherited estate: the so called voluntary partitioning, the judicial partitioning and the ante-mortem partitioning by the testator himself. The voluntary partitioning is performed by a contract and regulated by Article 34 to Article 36 of the Bulgarian Property Act. The conditions for its validity – the contract must a document in written form, certified by a notary and registered at the Property register.
The judicial partitioning is made in a specific, two-step legal procedure before court. During the first phase, the court determines the objects of property that have to be divided and the inheritance portion for each heir. During the second phase the heirs may raise claims between each other regarding the objects of property. Even before a decision concerning these claims is made, the inheritance portions are provided by the court. The general rule of any partitioning is that the inheritance portions must consist of objects (estate as well as other objects) that are equal in quality, form and value. The difference between the portions is to be equalled by money. Which share may go to which heir is either decided by the heirs themselves or, if they cannot come to an agreement, by a designated lottery.