Procedure of inheritance in the case a deceased is American

Recently, the number of foreign nationals who possess a real estate in Japan is increasing. But, they do not know about law relating to inheritance in Japan.

Even if they are still young, they will die within 100 years. Then their family need to handle with procedure of inheritance.

So, before owners are still alive, they need to know about inheritance law in Japan and make necessary preparation. Otherwise, their heirs will encounter severe issues.

In the case a foreign national who has a property in Japan  dies, we need to know which law will govern the case.
It means we need to specify governing law.

In the case of Japan, Act on General Rules for Application of Laws ( hereinafter referred to ” Act ” ) stipulates this process.

At first, I will explain in the case a American who owns a property in Japan dies.

According to Article 36 of Act, Inheritance shall be governed by the national law of the deceased.

So, in this case American state law  governs this inheritance.

However, according to state law, as for real estate, laws wherein the real estate is located shall govern the inheritance.
So, in the case a real estate is located in Japan, law of Japan shall govern the inheritance as far as real estate is concerned.
This is called renvoi.

Article 41 of Act
In the cases where the national law of a party concerned shall govern, if Japanese law shall govern in accordance with the law of the country of the national law, Japanese law shall govern; provided, however, that this shall not apply where the national law of a party shall govern under Article 25 (including cases where it is applied mutatis mutandis pursuant to Article 26, paragraph (1) and Article 27) or Article 32.

So, if a American has a real estate in Japan and other kind of property in Japan and deceased, Law of Japan shall be applied to inheritance of a real estate.
And  state law shall be applied to inheritance of cash, vehicle, stocks etc.

Of course, in the case an American has a real estate in America and deceased and Japanese national inherited the real estate, state law shall be applied to this inheritance.


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