Can spouses always claim part of an estate in Japan?

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Even if a deceased writes a will that excludes a spouse or child, under Japanese law, a spouse can almost always claim a portion of the estate by right.  This portion may not be as large as the spouse would have received if there had been no will at all, but this provision is meant to ensure that spouses will always receive something upon the death of their partner.

The above rule is a good reason why finalizing a divorce is an important part of probate planning.  Even if spouses are separated or estranged, if they are still technically married a spouse can claim a portion of the assets upon the death of a partner.

If you have any questions about probate in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.