Normally, heirs to a deceased in Japan will not inherit any of the deceased’s estate until the probate process is completed. This ensures that the process is conducted correctly and each heir receives a fair distribution. However, it is possible to include language in a will that ensures an heir can immediately receive a particular asset without waiting for probate to finish.
If a deceased wrote that a particular asset “should be inherited” by a particular heir, the asset in question is immediately transferred to the heir upon the death of the deceased. In this case the heir does not need to wait for probate to finish and is free to sell the asset or change title of ownership. This rule allows heirs to inherit assets immediately and is used in a manner similar to Survivorship Accounts, Joint Tenancies and Payable on Death Accounts in other countries.
If you have any questions about probate in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.