Probate proceedings are regular court proceedings conducted after the death of the testator. It is initiated after the court receives the testator's death certificate, an extract from the register of the deceased, or a document equated with them.
In the probate proceedings should be determined:
- the successors
- the composition of the estate
- rights belonging to individual heirs and other persons.
Territorial jurisdiction to discuss the estate is determined according to the testator's domicile at the time of death, and in the alternative according to the place of residence, the place where the majority of his estate is located in Croatia, or according to the place where the testator is registered.
The municipal court, ie the public notary as the court commissioner, is competent to discuss the inheritance.
The court will set a date for the probate hearing. The court will invite interested persons to the probate hearing, as well as persons who could legally claim the right to inherit in the case of a will and the executor of the will if appointed. Interested persons are also invited to submit a written will to the court, or a document on the oral will if it is in their possession, or to indicate witnesses to the oral will.
At the probate hearing, the court will discuss all issues important for making a decision in the probate proceedings, and in particular the right to inheritance, the size of the inheritance share and the right to records. As a rule, the court decides of rights after allowing interested persons to make the necessary statements.
The heir accepts or waives the inheritance by an inheritance statement. Everyone is authorized, but no one is required to make an inheritance statement. If you have not made a declaration of renunciation of the inheritance it is considered that you want to be the heir. If you validly declare that you accept the inheritance, you can no longer waive it. The court will not require an inheritance statement from you, but you can give it orally before the probate court or before any other municipal court, or by submitting a certified document to the probate court.
Decision on inheritance
After the end of the probate hearing, the court issues a decision on inheritance, which determines who became the testator's heir and which rights were acquired by other persons. The final decision determines what is in the composition of the estate, who is the testator's heir, how much of the inheritance belongs to him, whether his inheritance right is limited or encumbered and how, whether there are any rights to records and which, as well as which rights the other persons gained with that.
What is determined by a final decision on inheritance can be refuted only by someone who, according to the provisions of the Inheritance Act, is not bound by the validity of the decision on inheritance, and only through litigation with persons in whose favor the determination is challenged.
Complaint and objection
An appeal is allowed against the decision of the first instance court, unless otherwise prescribed by law, and it is submitted within 15 days from the delivery of the first instance decision. Decisions against which an objection is allowed, ie an appeal and the decisions of the second instance court must be reasoned.
If the decision on inheritance was issued by a public notary as a court commissioner, you submit an objection to the decision to the public notary within eight days from the day of delivery of the decision. The notary is obliged to submit your complaint to the competent court without delay (together with the file).
The complaint is then decided by a judge who can:
- dismiss the objection
- keep the decision of the public notary in full or in part
- revoke the decision of the public notary in whole or in part.
No independent appeal is allowed against the decision of the court by which the decision of the public notary was revoked in whole or in part. The decision on the complaint will be delivered to the legal parties and the public notary.
The court, that has entrusted the case to a public notary, exercises constant supervision over his work and for important reasons may deprive him of the conduct of probate proceedings and conduct the proceedings himself or entrust it to another public notary.
When in the probate procedure the notary acts as a court trustee, the notary fee is not paid, but only the reward according to the prescribed tariff. The public notary is prohibited from concluding an agreement with the parties on the payment of the prize and costs other than as prescribed by the tariff.
The amount of the award depends on the estimated value of the estate, and more detailed information can be found in the Ordinance on the amount of remuneration and reimbursement of costs of a public notary as a court commissioner in probate proceedings.
Whether the probate proceedings are conducted by a court or a public notary, the court will refer the parties to litigation or administrative proceedings if the disputed facts are:
- which one of their rights depends (eg facts on which it depends: inheritance right, size of inheritance part, value of necessary part or inclusion in inheritance part, justification of exclusion of necessary heirs or existence of reasons for unworthiness, whether a person renounced inheritance)
- the right to a record or other right to inheritance
- the composition of the estate.
Depending on the nature of the disputed facts, the probate proceedings may be interrupted or continued for the duration of the litigation.
When there is no discussion
The probate hearing is not conducted:
- if, according to the information available to the court, the deceased did not leave a estate
- if the testator left only movables and equal rights with them, and the persons called to inherit do not require conduction of the probate proceeding.