Certificate of Heirs - What is it, how does one obtain it and when is it useful?

The issue of official “certificate of heirship”

Foreign individuals who choose to live in Bulgaria may require legal advice on leaving their Bulgarian property behind after they pass away. Since Bulgaria has a system of ‘reserved shares’ (for certain categories of relatives) and since one may choose not to leave a will (or may consider the situation in which their will is for some reason not valid), one of those issues is how to prove heirship through a family relationship before the Bulgarian authorities.

Civil registries in Bulgaria

Bulgarian civil registration law provides that only foreign nationals who are long-term or permanent residents are required to register in municipal Civil Registries.

As the civil registry keeps records on the name(s), civil and martial status, descendants of persons on the Registers, in such cases foreign individuals should have no problem obtaining a Certificate of Inheritance (“удостоверение за наследници” in Bulgarian).

What if someone who has Bulgarian assets has not registered in Bulgaria, either because they were informed they did not qualify or because they were unaware of the possibility?

The problem from the perspective of a British/Irish national

The problem of proving the heirship arises often with UK citizens, as the British / Irish authorities do not provide a document similar to the Bulgarian Certificate of Inheritance.

The lack of such official document (whether named Certificate of Heirs, Inheritance Certificate, Succession Certificate, etc.), proving the capacity of heir creates the following problems most commonly:

Proving the capacity of heir of a deceased owner of shares in a Bulgarian limited liability company in case of the inheritance of shares;

Proof before a Notary in the transfer of property owned by the deceased;

- Proof of capacity of heir to participate in judicial or administrative proceedings.


As a result of the above, Bulgarian authorities often refuse services to a person who claims to be an heir, citing the lack of "official documents" proving that capacity.

New Balkans Law Office has developed practical know-how and various ways to deal with the matter depending on the facts of the case and we find that the vast majority of these situations are resolvable.

We are happy to advise and propose a solution. Please contact us on our Sofia or London numbers or by e-mail for more information.

Recent work:

Asset tracing and fraud: Use of evidence from parallel criminal proceedings in a civil trial

Over the last year, we have assisted the victims of a multi-million dollar large-scale international fraud. Certain of the scheme’s operations were embedded in Bulgaria’s thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) ecosystem.

As part of our representation for clients, we have pursued a claim in a regional Bulgarian court (the organisers of the fraudulent scheme having transferred the registration of the relevant entity to a disused building in that location). We were pleased to obtain a very helpful intervention from the court at first instance including an order to append files containing a substantial amount of evidence generated through a criminal investigation into the fraud to the civil case. This provides rich evidential pickings for proceedings which are either already being conducted or are being contemplated in a range of international jurisdictions as well as Bulgaria.

Read more

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