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Inheritance and testaments

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An estate inventory must be carried out within three months of the death of a person who lived in Finland. The carrying out of the estate inventory is usually the responsibility of the heir of the estate, and of those whose care the estate is in. Failing to carry out the estate inventory may result in personal debt responsibility for the heir.

When the estate has been researched (estate inventory carried out and the possible division of properties and possessions recorded) the division of the estate may be carried out in the specified format and period of time. If the heirs cannot come to an agreement about the division of the estate, the civic court can be asked to appoint an executor of the estate. In that case the distribution of the estate is carried out by a court appointed neutral executor.

A testament is a judicial act in a specified format in case of death. The format of making a testament is stipulated in inheritance laws. The format specified by law must be abided by, so that the testament is valid. Making a testament is the only effective way to dictate how one’s belongings will be distributed or used after death. The testator cannot disinherit his or her direct heirs with a testament, because they have a legal right to a compulsory legal portion of the inheritance. Direct heirs are the decedent’s own children (heir of the body).