How is a will drawn up and can I register it?
Last update: 10/7/2012
Special forms must be respected by any person wanting to draw up a will. Hungarian law recognises the following forms of wills:
- an authentic will executed by a civil law notary (notarial will) or court;
- a holographic will which must be entirely written by the testator and signed by him/her;
- an allographic will drawn up by a third person, signed by the testator, in the presence of two witnesses. Holographic and allographic wills can be filed with the civil law notary;
- oral wills, subject to specific conditions.
In a cross-border situation, a will is valid in principle if it complies with the laws of the State where it has been drawn up.
A register of wills has existed since 1993. It is managed by the Hungarian National Chamber of Civil Law Notaries. This register is accessible to the legal profession and competent authorities. Citizens can request that a civil law notary register their will.
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”.
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will as regards its form and substance?
The testamentary capacity is governed by the law of the state of which the deceased was a national at the moment of his/her death (§ 36 of Law-Decree No. 13 of 1979 on IPL).
For a will to be valid, the testator must have the capacity and intention to draw up a will independently and requirements regarding its form must also be respected. Forms of will: public/authentic will (will executed before a civil law notary or a court) § 625 (1) PTK, holographic will (handwritten testament written and signed by hand by the testator) § 629 (1) a) PTK; allograph will (written will, signed or the signature declared for his/her before two witnesses) 629 (1) b PTK; oral will – drawn up in exceptional circumstances and with restricted validity (3 month), § 634-635 and 651 (3) PTK.
Joint and mutual wills are prohibited and invalid in Hungary (§ 644 PTK).
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will drawn up in another State?
Although the Convention of The Hague on the conflicts of law relating to the form of testamentary dispositions of 5 October 1961 has not been ratified by Hungary, national provisions contain similar rules ((§ 36 of Law-Decree No. 13 of 1979 on IPL):
“(2) A will shall be adjudged on the basis of the law which was the personal law of the testator at the time of his/her death. A will and the withdrawal thereof shall be formally valid if they comply with the Hungarian law, or
a) the law in force at the place and time of the making and withdrawal thereof, or
b) the law which was the personal law of the testator at the time of the making of the will and the withdrawal thereof, or at the time of the testator’s death, or
c) the law in force at the testator’s place of residence or habitual residence at the time of the making of the will and the withdrawal thereof, or at the time of the testator’s death, or
d) in the case of a will relating to real property, the law applicable at the place of location of the real property.”
Are agreements relating to a future inheritance authorised? Who can conclude such an agreement? What form must be respected?
A succession contract can only be concluded in exchange for a maintenance obligation between the testator and his/her future heirs. By concluding the agreement the testator has to name the contracting party as his/her heir in exchange for maintenance or a life-annuity. Only the testator is entitled to make any testamentary disposition in the contract (§ 655 PTK).
The provisions on written wills apply regarding the validity of succession contracts with the difference that the consent of the legal representative and the approval of the guardian shall be required for the validity of a contract made by a person of diminished capacity, furthermore, the formal requirements of wills written by other persons apply to succession contracts even if they are drafted in the handwriting of one of the parties (§ 656 PTK).The contract may be revoked or changed freely by each of the testators (§ 658 PTK).
There is a possibility provided only for the descendants of the testator to conclude a contract in writing among themselves regarding their anticipated inheritance even during the lifetime of the testator (§ 660 PTK).
Are there other possibilities for settling a succession?
Gift mortis causa – If a gift has been given under the condition that the donee outlives the donor, the regulations governing gifts shall be applied to the contract with the difference that the formal requirements shall be the same as those for succession contracts.
Gifts made during the testator’s life – donations by the testator during his/her or her lifetime are included for calculating the reserved share, if they are made within 15 years before the death (§ 667 PTK).
How and where can I register a will? What is the effect of registration?
Wills and other dispositions related to death can be registered since 1993 with the National Register of Wills (VONY) which is managed electronically by the Hungarian National Chamber of Civil law Notaries. The application for registration can be submitted through notarial offices. Wills drafted or deposited with civil law notaries are automatically registered to the VONY.
For civil law notaries it is compulsory to verify in every succession procedure if the register contains a will left by the deceased person. Direct access to the data of the register is enabled for the civil law notaries settling the succession procedure, for the notarial chamber and for its archives. Indirect access to the data of the register – through the intervention of the notarial chamber – is granted to lawyers, courts and other competent authorities.
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Successions in Hungary
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