Q: A family member died in Bulgaria and I am aware they had a property (and a company registered there). How do I go about acquiring it?
A: Where a person dies without leaving a valid will, Bulgarian law has rules about dividing the deceased’s estate between certain of his family members. Where the deceased has left a will, Bulgarian law would still set aside certain shares of the deceased’s estate (or at least such estate as is in Bulgaria) for certain close family members. These are known as ‘reserved shares’ and there are relatively simple rules determining whether they apply.
If your family member’s Bulgarian company owns the property of your deceased relative, and the company was itself solely owned by your deceased relative, you and any other heirs would need to declare before the Bulgarian Company Registry that you wish the company to continue trading. You and any other heirs would also have to apply to register as shareholders of the inherited company shares with the Company Registry. To do this, you need to present evidence of the death of your relative, as well as of your capacity as his or her heir(s).
If the family member was not the sole owner of the shares of the property-holding company, and there are other shareholders, you need to check if you can become a shareholder. This would usually depend on the provisions of the company’s Articles of Association and on the consent of the remaining shareholders. In case such shareholders refuse to let you (or other heirs) become shareholders, you will still be entitled to receive compensation. This would be equal to such part of the company’s net assets which is proportionate to your relative’s share in the capital of the company at the time of distribution.
An ~€1M claim on behalf of real estate consultants
NBLO’s dispute resolution lawyers represented UK-based real estate consultants who had structured a € 40-million-worth commercial property project on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. In breach of an applicable contractual obligation, the consultants had not been paid the agreed success fees for their services. The then director of the defaulting party had been tragically shot dead in the meantime.
Following a hotly contested first instance, with below-the-belt attempts by the other side (the least untypical perhaps being the claim that the contract had been a forgery and a trial-within-a-trial on the issue), our team succeeded in obtaining a judgment at first instance. The parties were then able to achieve a significant settlement.
The key skills we were able to bring to bear in providing a solution included searching for solutions across the problem domain; appropriately involving representatives of Bulgaria’s EU partner member-states to buttress judicial independence; and resourcefully dealing with heterodox approaches by our judicial opponents.
© New Balkans Law Office 2019