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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Civil Code Keeps State Out of Inheritance Coffers

The state will no longer inherit the property of almost every second Russian citizen as it has in years past after an inheritance law went into effect Friday broadly expanding the number of relatives recognized as heirs.

The law, part of a new Civil Code that replaces the 1964 code, permits not only direct relatives -- grandparents, parents, siblings and children -- to claim the property of the deceased, but also cousins, second cousins and their direct relatives. The law also permits a Russian to leave his possessions to legal entities, local and federal agencies and even foreign organizations and governments.

Belongings will only go to the state if no one makes a claim within six months of the owner's death.

"The state will be able to inherit in less than 1 percent of the cases," Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the State Duma's legislation committee, said on Ekho Moskvy radio Friday.

Earlier, the state inherited property in about one in every two deaths, Gazeta.ru reported Friday.

Several liberal legislators were quoted in the local press last week as saying that the new inheritance rules will encourage Russians to write wills -- a practice that remains rare -- and will finally provide the courts with detailed guidelines to deal with inheritance lawsuits.

Under the new law, a will can now be written outside of a notary's office and then delivered there in a sealed envelope by the benefactor to be opened after his or her death. Registration of a will with a public notary currently costs 100 rubles to 170 rubles ($3 to $6).

Where notaries are unavailable, a will is legally binding if signed by two witnesses.