Which is the competent authority?
Who should I contact?

Last update: 10/3/2012

The national courts and civil law notaries are competent to settle successions in Croatia.
When a court receives a death certificate, the inheritance proceedings are instituted and the court transfers the inheritance files to civil law notaries who – as courts commissioners – conduct inheritance proceedings and issue decisions (if all parties agree and there are no disputed issues). When there is a dispute or a problem in the factual background, i.e. determination of heirs or property, civil law notaries then turn over the file to the courts to conclude the inheritance proceedings.

You should contact a municipal court and a civil law civil law notary as described above.

Detailed information

Which international rules of jurisdiction apply:

  • to the assets of a national or a foreign citizen?

In the absence of applicable provisions in international agreements, the succession of real property
located in Croatia will be settled in Croatia, provided that the deceased had Croatian nationality ( Art. 71/1 Law on Resolution of Conflicts of Laws with the Provisions of Other Countries in Certain Matters – croatian Abr. ZRSZ , „Narodne novine“ 53/91).

For his/her movables in Croatia the succession will also be settled in Croatia, or for movables abroad -if the foreign authority of that country is not competent to settle the succession or refuse to settle it (Art. 71/3
ZRSZ).

Croatian courts have exclusive competency when the deceased is a foreign citizen and owns a real estate in Croatia (Art. 72/1 Law on Resolution of Conflicts of Laws with the Provisions of Other Countries in
Certain Matters– croatian Abr. ZRSZ, „Narodne novine“ 53/91).

For personal property bequeathed by the deceased in Croatia, the Croatian courts have jurisdiction if in the deceased’s state some authority has competence for the succession a Croatian citizen’s movables.

  • to the assets of the deceased if located abroad?

If the real property of a Croatian citizen is located abroad, the Croatian court is competent only if, under the provisions of law of that country, the competence for the foreign authority does not exist. (Art 71/2 ZRSZ)

If the deceased was a foreign national, none of the estate abroad is governed by Croatian law.

Which authority is responsible for the succession procedure?

An inheritance proceeding is made “ex officio”, i.e. when a Court receives a death certificate, the inheritance proceedings are instituted and the Court transfers inheritance files to civil law notaries. A Municipal Court (the first instance Court) of the deceased’s residence is a competent Court or the Municipal Court where the Land Registry for the property is maintained when the deceased did not have residence in Croatia.

Civil law notaries are acting as courts commissioners: they conduct inheritance proceedings and issue decisions. Parties (i.e. heirs, legatees, others who have an interest in the legacy) are to be called to take part in the proceedings which usually take 2 to 6 months.

How and by whom is the succession procedure instigated?

The succession procedure is automatically instigated as soon as the Court is informed of the deceased’s death (Art. 210 Inheritance Act – Croatian : Zakon o nasljeđivanju – Abr. ZON, “Narodne novine”, 48/03, 163/03, 35/05)

How is the heir’s capacity checked?

The heir’s capacity is checked as part of the judicial succession procedure (Art. 4 and 124 ZON).

Can or must an inventory of the estate be drawn up?

It is required to draw up an inventory of the estate when it is not known if there are any heirs or, in the event that there are heirs, when they cannot take care of their rights and interests because they are minors, or mentally ill or due to other circumstances, or in some other justified cases. (Art. 194 ZON). An inventory shall also be ordered upon the request of the heirs, legatees or creditors of the deceased.

Is there a system regarding the administration of the succession?

In the moment of the opening of the succession (that is at the death of the deceased), the property of the estate falls directly by operation of law to the heir (Art. 4/4 ZON).

A succession is not a legal entity.

How is the succession procedure closed?

Civil law notaries issue decisions in inheritance proceedings only if all parties agree and there are no disputed issues. When a discrepancy exists in the factual background, i.e. determination of heirs or property, civil law notaries than turn over the file to the courts to conclude the inheritance proceedings.

The following are defined by a valid decision on inheritance: the inheritance, the heirs, their shares, and if their inheritance rights are limited or bequeathed. (Art. 232 ZON)

How is the estate transmitted to the heirs/legatees?

The transmission of an estate is done independently of the heir and without his/her knowledge. The estate is transmitted ipso jure pursuant to a valid decision on inheritance issued by the civil law notaries/competent court (Art. 232 ZON).