Testaments of foreign citizens concerning Bulgarian properties


The present article is trying to clarify some of the problematic issues related with testaments of foreign persons who have properties in Bulgaria. As testament is generally accepted instrument to dispose of property (according to many foreign jurisdictions) often foreign people are disposing with their properties located in different countries (including the Republic of Bulgaria) with only one testament.

According to the Bulgarian legislation the testament is very formal act and when the formal requirements are not observed the testament could not be recognized as valid under the Bulgarian law. If a testamentary disposition is related to real estate, it should be registered into the Land Registry. Registration of testaments into the Land Registry Office is made for its protection against acts of third parties.

The Bulgarian law of succession is recognizing two forms of testaments: handwritten will and the form of the notary will. We are advising our clients to choose a notary testament form as handwritten form of testament could be easily contested before the Bulgarian Court. Also, it is very possible the handwritten will to be lost or to fall in the possession of 3 parties.

The notary form of testament is recommendatory.

The notary testament form should observe several requirements. First, it should be prepared by a Notary Public in Bulgaria and it should be registered into the Bulgarian Land Registry Office. Only when the notary testament is registered it is bounding for third parties. The notary testament should be prepared into the Notary’s office. After its registration the notary is bound to keep the testament in his office. When the testator dies, the notary is announcing the testament to his or her relatives. When the testament are prepared by Bulgarian notary and concerns only properties in Bulgaria there could not be problems with its announcing because the testament is conforming to the requirements of the Bulgarian legislation.

The problems come in cases when one foreign person is disposing with only one testament made for all his (her) properties owned in different countries. For example, a person is making testament in United Kingdom which testament concerns also properties in Bulgaria. Although the testament is prepared by UK Notary Public, there are often problems related with its registering into the Bulgarian Land Office, respectively with its recognition in Bulgaria. As the testament under the Bulgarian legislation is very formal act it should kept all the requirements of the Bulgarian legislation. Otherwise, it shall not be announced as valid by the respective administration. If the testament is not prepared under the requirements of the Bulgarian law it shall not be registered into the Registry Office.

Having in mind the problems related with registration of the testaments prepared in other countries -different then Bulgarian country, we are advising foreign people to use a separate testament prepared in Bulgarian Notary concerning the Bulgarian properties.

It should also be mentioned that under the Bulgarian practice the testament is not the most popular act of disposal and in Bulgaria it is not widespread in comparison with another different deals of disposal as sale purchase, donation, contract for maintenance and care, etc. which are accepted in practice as more secure and hardily contestable.

This article was created by Valova&Angelova law firm.