The following methods are available in Japan for the division of a decedent’s estate.
1) Negotiation and mutual agreement
The heirs will talk to each other and come to an agreement. After agreement is reached, an estate division agreement is drawn up. In most cases, a registered personal seal is stamped on the estate division agreement.
2) Conciliation at the Family Court (Cho-tei in Japanese)
When the heirs could not reach an agreement, any heir can file a petition for a conciliation procedure at the Family Court.
The Conciliation Committee (two commissioners and one judge) will conduct the conciliation procedure and facilitate the discussion between the heirs.
When the heirs agree to a settlement, the court will prepare a document which has the same force and effect as a final and binding judgment.
3) Trial at the Family Court (Shinpan in Japanese)
When the heirs cannot reach agreement at the conciliation procedure, the procedure will move on to the Trial procedure “Shinpan” and the judge will decide and order how to divide the assets.
In inheritance, many factors are taken into account, and only a specialist can provide appropriate legal advice. An early consultation with an attorney-at-law (Bengoshi lawyer) is advisable regarding inheritance procedures in Japan.