How is a will drawn up and can I register it?

Last update: 10/5/2012

Anyone who wishes to have a will drawn up must respect specific forms of public wills and private wills.

Public wills are drawn up by a civil law civil law notary, by a municipal court or by consular bodies.
Private wills are holographic wills, handwritten dated and signed by the testator and allographic or witnessed wills, which do not need to be handwritten by the testator but must be signed by the testator and by two witnesses.

Finally, the last type of private will is the oral will, admitted under extraordinary circumstances.

In a cross-border situation, a will is, in principle, valid if it corresponds to the law of the state in which the will was drawn up. No foreign regulatory form may be deemed contrary to public order or to the content of mandatory rules.

In Croatia, is there a register of wills? If so, what authority does the register have and how is a will registered in it?

There is a Croatian Register of Wills administered by the notariat: Croatian Civil law notaries Chamber, Radnička cesta 34, HR-10000 Zagreb.

Civil law notaries, judges, lawyers, consular bodies and private persons who made their will, may record wills in the register. Wills of all forms may be registered but registration is not mandatory. Foreign citizens may not record their wills in the register. The date of the testator’s death is not recorded in the register. Withdrawals, revocations and other amendments are possible in the register.

The wills register must be queried at the time of carrying out succession proceedings. Disclosure of a will is legally mandatory. The existence of the will remains secret during the testator’s life. It is not necessary to provide a death certificate to perform a search in the register because the inheritance proceeding is initiated by the court. Before the court, the death should be proved.

Information about how to keep, to register and to search for a will are also available on the website of the European Network of Register of Wills Association (ENRWA) in the section “Information sheet”.

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Detailed information

What are the conditions governing the validity of a will as regards its form and substance?

For a will to be valid, the testator must have the capacity and intention to draw up a will independently. For the will to be valid the requirements regarding its form must also be respected. Forms of will are:

  • Public wills which are drawn up by a civil law notary, by a municipal court or by consular bodies.
  • Private wills which are holographic wills, handwritten dated and signed by the testator him/herself and allographic or witnessed wills, which need not to be handwritten by the testator him/herself but must be signed by the testator and by two witnesses.

Finally, the last type of private will is the oral will, admitted under some extraordinary circumstances.

What are the conditions governing the validity of a will drawn up in another State?

In a cross-border situation, a will is, in principle, valid if it corresponds to the law of the State in which the will was drawn up. No foreign regulatory form may be deemed contrary to public order or to the content of mandatory rules.

Regarding a form of will, the Hague Convention on the conflicts of laws relating to the form of testamentary dispositions, Oct. 5, 1961, applies.

Are agreements relating to a future inheritance authorised? Who can conclude such an agreement? What form must be respected?

In the Republic of Croatia a contract on future heredity or legacy, a contract on inheritance and a contract on a content of a will are invalid (Art. 102-104 ZON).

A contract on cession and distribution of property during a life time is regulated (Art. 105-115 ZON).
It is valid in its form if it is drawn up in a written form and authenticated by a judge of the relevant court or notarised or drawn up as a notarial contract (Art. 106 ZON).

Are there other possibilities for settling a succession?

Under the provisions of Civil Obligations Act, the Lifelong support contract and Contract for support until death (Art. 579-589 of Civil Obligations Act) are allowed. A joint or mutual will is not regulated.

How and where can I register a will? What is the effect of registration?

There is a Croatian Register of Wills administered by the notariat: Croatian Notaries Chamber, Radnička cesta 34, HR-10000 Zagreb. (Art. 68 ZON).

Civil law notaries, judges, lawyers, consular bodies and private persons who made their will, may record wills in the register. Wills of all forms may be registered but registration is not mandatory. Foreign citizens may not record their wills in the register. The date of testator’s death is not recorded in the register. Withdrawals, revocations and other amendments are possible in the register.

The register of wills must be queried at the time of carrying out succession proceedings. Disclosure of a will is legally mandatory.

The existence of the will remains secret during the testator’s life. It’s not necessary to provide a death certificate to perform a search in the register because the inheritance proceeding is initiated by the court. Before the court, the death should be proved.