Upon a person’s death, their estate, including all the property on which debts are owed, is transferred to the heir designated in the testamentary disposition or to the legal heir who is entitled to inherit according to the rules governing statutory intestate succession.
In Hungary, the transfer of the estate upon the death of a person is determined by the probate procedure.
I. Substantive provisions of inheritance law
The testator is free to dispose of his property, or part of it, as he sees fit, in the event of his death. If a will and testament is left after the testator dies, this will govern the order of inheritance. In the absence of a testamentary disposition, the order of inheritance is governed by law.
Detailed information on the substantive provisions of inheritance law, as well as on the rights and obligations of the heirs can be found on the following website:
II. The probate procedure and other procedural acts
The purpose of the probate procedure is to establish the inheritance of the estate of the deceased person, i.e. to determine who inherits, under what legal title, exactly what and in what proportion. The probate procedure is divided into two stages:
2.1. Beginning the probate procedure
The procedure is initiated when the local government clerk is made aware of the death of the testator, on the basis of the medical certificate of death or the order on declaration of presumed death or the order establishing death, or following a report by a person having a legal interest in initiating the probate procedure.
Documents relating to the commencement of the procedure
Consequently, the probate procedure may also be initiated on the basis of a report by the interested party. This report must be made to the local government clerk. The report must include:
The following documents must be attached to the report:
2.2. Inventory of the estate
The first stage of the procedure is intended to clarify the personal and material circumstances of the case (e.g. assets left by the deceased; persons having an interest in inheritance; existence of a testamentary disposition left by the testator). Those circumstances are recorded in the inventory of the estate, which must be sent to the competent notary once it has been drawn up.
An inventory must be drawn up, inter alia, of any immovable property, company shares, registered assets (motor vehicles, aircraft, vessels), as well as of movable property with a market value exceeding HUF 300 000. At the request of an interested party in the inheritance, other assets may also be included in the inventory.
Regarding any immovable property belonging to the estate, the local government clerk having territorial competence according to the location of the asset issues a tax and value certificate containing:
The issuance of a tax and value certificate may necessitate an inspection in order to determine the market value of the immovable property.
The value of the immovable property entered in the inventory must be in accordance with the tax and value certificate.
2.3. Protective measures
In the course of the probate procedure, protective measures may be ordered to preserve the assets belonging to the estate included in the inventory. Such measures are ordered by the local government clerk or the notary if the person conducting the procedure has reason to believe that the preservation of the assets may not be ensured until the end of the procedure, i.e. until the distribution of the estate, which would jeopardise the actual transfer of the estate (e.g. because the assets belonging to the estate could alienated, hidden, damaged, encumbered, or the assets belonging to the estate could lose their value as a result of natural deterioration). In certain cases, protective measures may also be ordered by the notary public ex officio (e.g. if the interested party in the inheritance is a foetus, is a minor, or his/her whereabouts are unknown, etc.).
Protective measures may be ordered on condition that the interested party in the inheritance substantiates the fact that the distribution of the estate is in jeopardy and settles the foreseeable fees and costs of the protective measures in advance.
2.4. Settlement agreements
In the course of the procedure before the local government clerk, at the inventory stage, the parties interested as heirs may negotiate a settlement agreement with each other and with the creditors of the estate, and may, for that purpose, use a mediation procedure.
If the parties reach an agreement, the local government clerk forwards their written statement (draft settlement agreement), together with their request for approval, to the notary. The settlement agreement may be concluded at a later stage in the procedure before the notary. The settlement agreement is approved by the notary if it complies with the legal requirements. In this case, the notary public is bound by this agreement when adopting the estate distribution order, and distributes the estate pursuant to the agreement.
A settlement agreement may also be concluded in a procedure before the notary if the heirs have not previously concluded a draft settlement agreement before the local government clerk.
2.5. Redemption of the right of the surviving spouse
A claim for the redemption of the right of the surviving spouse may be submitted during the probate hearing. In the probate procedure, the surviving spouse rights may only be redeemed by means of a settlement agreement concluded by the parties concerned and in accordance with the law (i.e. which may be approved by the notary). In the event of a dispute, the claim may be enforced before the court by the parties concerned.
2.6. Obtaining the testamentary disposition
If any data suggest that the testator has made a written testamentary disposition, the notary calls upon the person holding it in his possession to hand it over.
This person is obliged to hand over or send any information relating to the testamentary disposition of the testator to the notary, without any delay.
In such cases, the testamentary disposition must be sent by post with acknowledgement of receipt, or it may be handed over to any local government clerk or notary in Hungary, or to a Hungarian career consular officer abroad.
2.7. Distribution of the estate
On the basis of the outcome of probate procedure, the notary adopts a formal decision, which is known as estate distribution order. In this document, the notary distributes, in legal terms, the individual assets of the estate to those entitled to it.
2.7.1. Distributing the estate without a hearing
The estate is distributed without a hearing taking place if no statement that would have an impact on the outcome of the case is expected to be made at a hearing. It is possible to request a hearing in certain cases where an estate is transferred in this way.
The notary distributes the estate without a hearing:
If a draft settlement agreement is annexed to the inventory of the estate and it complies with the law, the notary will decide on the approval the settlement agreement without holding a hearing and distribute the estate without a hearing, provided that:
2.7.2. Distributing the estate with a hearing
The probate hearing is a procedural act in which statements are obtained from the parties interested as heirs and in which they get acquainted with the content of the testamentary disposition and the statements of the other interested parties.
The notary public sets the place of the hearing at his official premises and summons the interested parties to appear. If a duly summoned person fails to appear at the hearing, the probate hearing may still be held and a decision may still be adopted.
3. Supplementary probate procedure
If an asset belonging to the estate is found after the conclusion of the probate procedure, a supplementary probate procedure may be initiated. The rules of the probate procedure apply mutatis mutandis to the supplementary probate proceedings.
4. Issue of a certificate of succession
A certificate of succession may be issued in situations in which it is not possible to conduct a probate procedure but the person who will inherit needs to certify his capacity as an heir. At that person’s request, the notary issues a certificate of succession, which contains only the order of succession, i.e. who is an heir, under what legal title and in what proportion. The notary will set a hearing if he or she considers it necessary.
If an estate is distributed after the issue of the certificate of succession, the certificate of succession becomes ineffective.
5. Issue of a European Certificate of Succession
The European Certificate of Succession, introduced under Regulation (EU) 650/2012 (hereinafter ‘Regulation’), is a document issued by a specific authority of an EU Member State, by which the parties interested as heirs may prove their status in any inheritance procedure conducted in another Member State and may enforce their rights. In Hungary, the heirs (legatees, executors of wills or administrators of the estate) may apply to the notary for the issue of a certificate, using the form established by the Regulation, after the probate procedure has been concluded.
Key deadlines for the probate procedure:
As timeliness is an important factor in these procedures, there can be no stay of procedure in the probate procedure, because there may be some situations regarding the testator’s estate that need to be resolved as soon as possible.
The list of documents to be submitted in order to begin the procedure is included in the detailed description in the chapter entitled ‘Beginning the probate procedure’.
Costs of the probate procedure
The costs of the probate procedure may include the following:
Among these, the notary public’s fee and reimbursement of expenses is included, in each case, in the costs of the procedure as follows:
The notary public’s fee and reimbursement of expenses:
If, for example, the value of the immovable property is HUF 9 000 000, based on the above, the notarial fee is HUF 40 600 (i.e. half of the fixed fee of HUF 81 200).
Advance payment of costs
The costs of the probate procedure, with the exception of notarial fees, must be paid in advance in the procedure. The amount advanced is considered as costs related to distributing the estate.
1. The notary
The competent notary
The notary having territorial competence in the place of the testator’s last official address or place of residence in Hungary will be the notary competent for conducting the procedure; in the absence of this, the notary having territorial competence in the place where the testator died in Hungary will be the competent notary; in the absence of this, the notary with having territorial competence in the place where the assets of the estate are located will be the competent notary; in the absence of any of the above, the notary designated by the Hungarian Chamber of Civil Law Notaries, upon the request submitted to it by a party interested in the inheritance, will be competent.
2. The local government clerk
The competent local government clerk
In the probate procedure, the rules governing the notary’s territorial competence are applicable to the territorial competence of the local government clerk. To the local government clerk's exclusion the rules on general administrative procedure apply. If more than one local government clerk has territorial competence according to the location of the property, the procedure may be initiated before either of them; the one before whom the procedure was first initiated will then be competent local government clerk.
3. The regional court
The competent regional court
The regional court, having territorial competence at the seat of the notary having territorial competence for the probate procedure, will be competent to adjudicate any appeal against the notary’s order.
1. Legal remedy against the procedure of the local government clerky
In the course of taking an inventory of the estate appeals against orders, other than those of the notary, , must be lodged with the local government clerk.
The order may also be amended by the local government clerk in accordance with the appeal, but if the appeal is not granted within 3 days, the local government clerk will send it to the notary without delay. If the notary does not grant the appeal, it will refer the appeal to the court within 3 days.
2. Appeal against the order of the notary
A party interested in succession and the subject to any provision of the order may lodge an appeal in accordance with the law.
The right of appeal cannot be waived in advance.
Any appeal against the order of a notary must be lodged with the notary who issued the order and must be addressed to the regional court having territorial competence at the seat of the notary.
The time limit for lodging an appeal is 15 days after the communication of the decision.
The regional court may decide in the following ways:
uphold the notary’s order,
amend the decision against which the appeal is brought,
set aside the contested order of the notary and instruct the notary to conduct new proceedings, and adopt a new decision if it is necessary to repeat or supplement the probate procedure because the violation of the essential rules of the procedure has had an impact on the decision on the substance of the case and it is not possible or reasonable to remedy it in second instance proceedings.
In the absence of an appeal, the estate distribution order becomes final and binding. Once it becomes final and binding, the estate distribution order, as an authentic instrument, certifies the status of the persons designated as heirs therein. The notary will, of its own motion, arrange for the forwarding of the final and binding estate distribution order to the real estate authority that is in charge of the land register (or to other authorities in charge of registers).
3. Inheritance action
If a dispute arises between the interested parties, the notary is not entitled to resolve it in the probate procedure; such disputes may only be settled in court proceedings (inheritance action).
The action must be brought against the person whose benefiting from the estate is the subject of the inheritance dispute.
4. Repeating the probate procedure
It is possible to repeat the probate procedure upon request; the preconditions of which will be examined by the notary public ex officio.
The application must include:
the substantive order closing the probate procedure against which the application is submitted,
the fact giving grounds to the amendment thereof, and
any evidence for it.
The application must be recorded by or submitted in writing to the notary who has issued the substantive order, within 1 year after the estate distribution order or the certificate of succession becomes final and binding.
Detailed information on the probate procedure can be found here.
Further information on inheritance and the probate procedure is available on the following websites:
Date on which the description was drawn up: 27/05/2020
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Act XXXVIII of 2010 on the probate procedure
Act XLI of 1991 on civil law notaries, Section 111
Act CXXX of 2016 on the Code of Civil Procedure
Act V of 2013 on the Civil Code, Book Seven, Section 8:1 (1) 1-2
Act CL of 2016 on the Code of General Administrative Procedure, Section 118
Act XCIII of 1990 on duties, Section 16, (1), i), Section 69 (4), Section 78
Decree 22/2018 (23 August) IM on notarial fees, Sections 26, 10 and 13(1)
Decree 29/2010 (31 December) KIM on certain acts of the probate procedure, Sections 19-21
REGULATION (EU) No 650/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of inheritance and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession