Division of Inheritance
After an inheritance commences, unless the deceased dictated how he/she
wanted to divide his assets in his/her will, the assets become a shared
property. This shared state of the assets should be dissolved as quickly as
possible, and the means to do this is to execute an Agreement on Division of
Types of Division
A method of division according to the contents of the deceased’s
will or by a person who has been appointed as the designator in the deceased’s will. (Civil Code 908) As long
as the designator distributes the assets to each heir in accordance with the
percentages designated in the will, he/she has the power to distribute the type
of asset (land, cash, etc.), in any way she/he sees fit. However, if the
designator changes the proportions of the inheritance given to each heir, this
is no longer a “designation of manner of division”, but has the function of “devise”
(“izou”) or “designation of portion”. Therefore, if a person whohas been appointed
as a designator designates such a division, it will be deemed invalid.
All the heirs talk about how the assets should be divided. In many cases, an “Agreement
on Division of Inheritance” is prepared so that they can prevent further
disputes and use this document for many procedures related to the inherited
① Division in Kind
Heir X and Heir Y receive
Property A and Property B in halves of each piece of property.
② Individual Division
Heir X receives Property A, and
Heir Y receives Property B.
③ Conversion Division
Convert both Property A and
Property B to money and distribute the money to the heirs.
④ Compensation Division
Heir X receives both Property A
and Property B and he pays Heir B an amount of money
equivalent to the
value of half of the price of the property he receives.
You can choose one of the
methods above. You are also allowed to combine two or more methods.
In case an agreement cannot be reached, or one or more of the
heirs cannot be contacted at all, one of the heirs has the right to file a “Request
for Division of Inheritance” to a Family Court. The Family Court renders a
decision on the division of inheritance, “taking account of all circumstances”.
(Civil Code 906)
Limitation of Retroactive
Effects of Division
The division of inheritance
property goes into effect retroactively to when the inheritance commenced
(Civil Code 909). Even so, in the case that a third party has already bought or
received a part of the inheritance property from one of the heirs and has
already obtained a “perfection requirement” (“taikou youken”) (such as a real
estate registration, the physical delivery of chattels, or deeds with a fixed
date for claims) by the time the Agreement on Division of Inheritance is executed,
this portion of the inheritance cannot be used to calculate the sum of the
inheritance property. The law protects such a third party. In this sense, the
retroactive effects of division are limited.