In the absence of a will, who inherits and how much?

Last update: 10/5/2012

In the absence of a will, the following principles apply to the various scenarios:

  • If the deceased was unmarried and without children: the parents of the deceased inherit the whole of the estate in equal parts.
  • If the deceased was unmarried and leaves children: the children inherit the whole of the estate in equal parts.
  • If the deceased leaves a spouse: The surviving spouse becomes sole heir, in the absence of descendants and of the mother and father of the deceased.
  • If the deceased leaves a spouse and children: The surviving spouse would only be the co-heir with the children, inheriting the same share as a child. The amount of his/her share also depends on the matrimonial property regime, that is to say, the regime of property relationships between spouses. The share of an already deceased child goes to his/her descendants per stirpes (representation).

Do partners of a registered or unregistered partnership inherit?

Partners of opposite sex cannot register in a civil partnership, but a non-married partner has the equal right to inherit as a spouse:

  • the partnership lasted for a certain period of time – at least 3 years or shorter if a child was born in that partnership
  • it ended with the death of one partner and
  • the conditions as for the validity of marriage were fulfilled.

Do registered partnerships exist for same-sex couples?

In the Republic of Croatia partners of the same-sex are legalised (Law on same sex partnerships, O.J. 116/03), but they cannot inherit one another. They can apply for support from one another and they can regulate their assets.

Detailed information

In the absence of a will, the following principles apply:

If the deceased was unmarried and without children, the parents of the deceased inherit the whole of the estate in equal parts (Art 11/4 ZON).

If the deceased was unmarried and leaves children, the children inherit the whole of the estate in equal parts (Art. 9 ZON).

If the deceased leaves a spouse, the surviving spouse becomes sole heir, in the absence of descendants and of the mother and father of the deceased. (Art. 11/3 ZON).

If the deceased leaves a spouse and children, the surviving spouse would only be the co-heir with the children, inheriting the same share as a child (Art. 9 ZON). The amount of his/her share also depends on the matrimonial property regime, that is to say, the regime of property relationships between spouses. The share of an already deceased child goes to his/her descendants per stirpes (representation).

The surviving spouse becomes sole heir if the deceased does not leave neither descendants nor parents.

In the Republic of Croatia, spouses are co-owners in equal shares of all the property that was acquired during the marriage, apart from the property spouses inherited or received as a gift, regardless of who has the title on property in the Land Registry. That is an undisputed presumption by the law. Ownership of property between spouses is regulated by the laws of the country of their citizenship. If the spouses have different citizenships, then the law of their common or last common residence is to be applied to their ownership of the property. If an applicable law cannot be determined on the basis of what is stated above, only then does Croatian law apply. (Art. 9-11 ZON)

What are the rights in the succession of partners of registered or non-registered partnerships?

Partners of opposite sex cannot register in a civil partnership, but a non-married partner has the equal right to inherit as a spouse (if the partnership lasted for a longer period of time – at least 3 years or shorter if a child was born in that partnership, if it ended with the death of one partner and if the conditions as for the validity of marriage were fulfilled). Art. 8(2) ZON

In the Republic of Croatia partners of the same sex are recognised by law (Law on same sex partnerships, O.J. 116/03), but they cannot inherit one another. They can apply for support from one another and they can regulate their assets.