In the process of dividing inherited assets, heirs must be specified with actual proofs at all times.
How can we find out heirs?
Only way is to trace “koseki”s(family register).
“koseki” is the system in line with Family Register Act（Act No. 224 of 1947）. ALL JAPANESE SHOULD HAVE this registration at the municipality of family register. This municipality does have no relation with address of decedent or the place where the person was born.
In order to obtain “koseki” or “koseki-tohon”, requisition must be made by heirs with actual proofs. “koseki” shows family name, where and when was born, or even current address. Protecting PRIVACY does superior, unless legal right of requisition is reserved. Municipality will not disclose “koseki” to third party. Even unmarried partner could be the case.
First rank heirs can be specified relatively easily, but some obstacle there. Koseki system has been modified and law changed during decedent lifetime(e.g. digitalization etc). For example, 70-year-old person should have around four “koseki”s. Previous ones are “closed” ones. Such “closed” ones, however, sometimes records for affliated child but not shown on latest “koseki”. In order to specify which rank of the inheritance, “koseki” from decedent’s born must be confirmed and shown to financial institution as proofs. “koseki” around 70 years ago – all must be written by handwriting. No English there. Even we Japanese in nowadays have difficulty to read precisely.
When heirs should be third rank, proving all siblings, depending the number, will have long-time work. Every siblings’ family register will be different municipality. Only respective municipal office will issue “koseki”. This is not, unfortunately, prefecture level. City or town basis.
Note that marriage will cause new independent “koseki” without no exception.
Gyoseishoshi Lawyer is professional for reading and collecting due “koseki”s from each municipality on behalf of heirs.