Will in Japan should follow the formality – Civil Code states in Article 960 as followings;
“No will shall take effect unless made in accordance with the formalities provided in this Code”.
Division has legally binding nature ONLY IF Will was by due formality. Other format can not be legally effective, then all heirs must agree with the division, which means Will might not be respected.
In Japan, Will should be written mainly by two ways – holograph document and notarized document.
Actual execution of division of assets will require original Will. Only Notarized document will not need involvement by Family Court. On the other hand, holograph document needs some process at Family Court in order to execute.
Notarized document does not require any court process, then heirs can go immediately to banks and Legal Affairs Bureau for actual execution of assets or ownership registration change with minimal proofs.
How to leave Notarized Will in Japan
Can we go directly to Notary office in order to leave will?
No, since Notary generally requires preparatory information, not only the “main body context” of the will.
Important thing to know is the fee scale for Notary which is set by relevant law. In Japan, Notary fee for making will is not flat; this is variable based upon the asset value. Thus, we need to list up assets like followings;
- Bank account : Bank and branch name, account number, updated balance
- Proof example : updated passbook, balance certificate by bank, photocopy of internet
- Security account : Each listed shares’ list
- Real Estates : Photocopy of real estate registration(“toki-bo”) with Property Tax assessment value
This Property Tax Assessment value is under administration of municipality where real estate lies – not government or prefecture basis. Each municipality has own record of Property Tax assessment value for each by each real estate for levying tax purpose.
Notary also requests the relationship with proof for heirs/the person who receives the assets, generally copies of official identification issued by government(passports for foreigners and “koseki” for Japanese). Wording should be submitted in advance; Notary will look into carefully the wordings, logics and assets in detail. Two witnesses are required. The person who could have potential conflict of interest, e.g. spouse, children, can not be witness.
Also it is important to know the fact that Will must be in Japanese language. At the time of completing Will at Notary office, which requires the person who will leave the Will to attend physically, Notary will read aloud the Will draft, and someone needs translate for Japanese language for one by one sentence.
Appointment with Notary office should be required as well as witnesses in advance and we need some pre-work as above.
Notary can visit the place outside Notary office, depending upon his availability and pre-arrangement. In this case Notary fee should increase 50% in accordance with relevant regulation.
All of above arrangement can be implemented by us.