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UK Last Will and Testament Vs Bulgarian Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document by which a person (testator) decides who will manage his/her estate at death, so called "beneficiaries". The Will comes into effect after the death of the testator and aims to amend the order of the succession. The estate includes not only all legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind but all liabilities a deceased person may have at the time of his/her death no matter where they have occurred. The problem arises when these facts have occurred in different countries than the residence of the testator and there is a collision of applicable laws.

In case of life-changing events, per instance relocation to a new country such as Bulgaria, you, as a testator, have three options:

1) To change your existing Will drafted in the UK

2) To draft a new Will in Bulgaria

3) To draft two separate Wills – one for the assets in the UK and the other for the assets in Bulgaria


You may change your existing Will drafted in the UK so it conforms to the Bulgarian laws. You can amend your existing Will by creating a codicil (a formal supplement to your will) in the UK and to store it together with your initial will. The problem you may face is that you or your attorney in the UK may not always know the applicable laws in Bulgaria. You might consider as well that your Last Will will be executed in your last domicile country (Bulgaria), and as a will made abroad, the beneficiaries must prepare an authorised translation and also have an "apostille" (an official stamp verifying the signature of the judge) on the original document. This means additional work, costs and time. Having in mind the time limit for submitting an inheritance tax declaration in Bulgaria (6 months from the death event),  the beneficiaries will be waiting for the probate from the UK to be issued, and then have to make the translation and get the "apostille" before taking it to Bulgaria. In this way they may easily overrun the time limit and be in for fines. You can also make an inheritance tax saving in favour of your beneficiaries by making the right kind of Will. 

If you choose to draft a new Will in Bulgaria you may destroy the previous one you drafted in the UK. You should bear in mind that the new Will may revoke partially or entirely the old one as inconsistent with your new Will. If this is your desire, you should state in your new Will that it revokes all prior wills and codicils. This will protect your intentions in the event that you forgot to destroy any originals or copies of prior wills or codicils. But then, again, your beneficiaries will face the aforementioned problem with the translation, apostille and tax inheritance if you leave some property in the UK along with your property in Bulgaria.

Therefore, it seems very reasonable to have two Wills - one for any assets in the UK and one covering your property and savings in Bulgaria. Should you decide to draft a Bulgarian Will you need to be sure that your UK Will deals with any assets not covered by the Bulgarian Law.  

The rules applicable to the Last Will and Testament in Bulgaria are set out in the Inheritance Act and the Private International Law Code. Pursuant to the law, the Last Will and Testament is two types – witnessed notarial and unwitnessed holographic, both are equally valid and enforceable. The Notarial Will is drafted by a Notary Public, then read to the testator in the presence of two uninterested witnesses, and finally signed by the testator, the Notary and the two witnesses. The Holographic Will is entirely handwritten and signed by the testator only. The Holographic Will could be kept by the beneficiary, the testator or a Notary. Both the Notarial and the Holographic Will should meet the formal requirements of the Law. On the material side, in general, the testator should express his will regarding the distribution of the property upon his death considering the part of the property reserved for his heirs according to the Law. It is important to know that even if he/she harms their interests, leaving some of his properties to other beneficiaries, the Last Will and Testament is still valid but the heirs then are entitled to seek a recovery within a specified time-limit.