Probates, Inheritance, and Asset transfer process in Lebanon.
The following is a summary of the procedures to be followed to issue a Probate Decision in Lebanon to determine the inheritance and complete the asset transfer transactions before the Ministry of Finance (MOF), whether by the heirs of a Lebanese citizen or a foreign national residing in Lebanon or abroad.
First: Defining the Asset Transfer Fee (Transfer Fee)
A Transfer Fee is imposed on all movable and immovable assets and funds that constitute the Estate.
The Transfer Fee includes:
(a) All movable and immovable assets located in Lebanon belonging to a Lebanese or foreign national, regardless of his place of residence.
(b) All movable and immovable assets abroad belonging to a Lebanese resident.
(c) All movable and immovable assets abroad belonging to a foreigner residing in Lebanon.
Double taxation on assets mentioned in paragraph (c) can be avoided under relevant international conventions as the case may be.
The Transfer Fee is imposed on assets that are transferred to the heirs through inheritance or in case of the existence of a duly authenticated Will.
Second: Issuing and executing the Death Certificate
The Death Certificate is an official document organized by a public official (the Mukhtar) which contains the date and cause of death as documented by a doctor’s report.
The documents required to issue the Death Certificate are the deceased’s identity card (or family statement) and the doctor’s report.
In the event of the death occurring outside Lebanese territory, the process is as follows:
- Issuing a Death Certificate from the hospital.
- Submitting the Death Certificate to the Lebanese Embassy or consulate.
The Lebanese Embassy then sends the papers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lebanon, which refers it to the Ministry of Interior in order to remove the deceased’s name from the official records. (Implementation period is usually about two months)
Third: Removing the deceased’s name from the official records
The documents required to remove the deceased’s name from the records are the Death Certificate and a family statement. This is a required process under Lebanese law.
How to follow up on the transaction of removing the deceased’s name from the records of souls:
- Apply for a family statement from the Mukhtar.
- Submit the death Certificate, to the Personal Status Authority.
- Issuing an executed family statement, i.e. from which the deceased’s name has been removed.
- Issuing a statement from the Mukhtar showing the name of the deceased, the place of his residence, the date of death and the names of the inheritors.
Fourth: Estate declaration to the MOF.
After the deceased’s name has been duly removed from the records, the assets constituting the Estate must be declared to the MOF within 90 days of the date of death.
In case of any delay in submitting the same a monthly fine of 3 percent of the total Transfer Fee amount shall be imposed.
The declaration is submitted in accordance to a form issued by the MOF, available at the competent financial department.
Documents required for the declaration:
- A copy of the death Certificate.
- A copy of the Will as the case may be.
- A copy of the executed family statement.
- A copy of the family statement for each of the heirs.
- A copy of the statement of inheritance issued by the Mokhtar.
- A copy of the real estate statements.
- A copy of the registration documents for vehicles.
- A copy of the financial statements proving the deceased’s ownership of securities and shares.
- Statement from the bank on existing bank accounts on the date of death.
- A copy of any SPA by the deceased to one of the heirs executed within two years before death.
A final declaration must be submitted with the required documents within 6 months of the date of death.
In the event of the a death occurring outside Lebanese territory, the declaration must be submitted to the Beirut Transfer Fee MOF Department, which can extend the declaration period up to one year from the date of death.
Fifth: Bank accounts
An application is made with the Association of Banks to inquire about bank accounts along with a true copy of the Probate Decision and Family Statement.
The Association of Banks circulates to all Lebanese banks a request for an inquiry into the accounts of the deceased and the applicant is then directly provided with information from all Lebanese banks by e-mail or registered post.
Sixth: Issuing a Probate Decision
The Probate Decision declares the death and identifies the names of the heirs and their inheritance shares.
- Death Certificate.
- Executed family statement of the deceased.
- Family statements of each the heirs.
- The statement of inheritance by the Mukhtar.
- Declaration License issued by the competent MOF department.
Seventh: Stages of the asset transfer process. Estate Transfer.
After obtaining the Probate Decision, the MOF declaration must be completed within the six months following the date of death and follow-up of the process with the competent departments of the MOF to estimate the value of the estate in preparation for the payment of the Transfer Fee.
The Estate valuation is conducted by the MOF controller and the Transfer Fee estimate shall be served to the heirs who are entitled to file an objection thereto.
The heirs must pay all personal and Estate taxes, including income tax and built property tax, in addition to the Transfer Fee for the issuance of a financial clearance authorizing the heirs to transfer ownership of the Estate to their personal names.
After paying all fees and taxes and issuing a clearance by the competent MOF departments, a notarized SPA is organized that enables the heirs to transfer ownership to their name in the real estate departments and they must at this stage of the transaction hand over the original title deeds of the real estate assets subject to the transfer process.
All documents are submitted to the real estate departments to carry out transactions and issue new title deeds registered under the name of the heirs according to their shares of the Estate.
Eighth: Final Declaration
The necessary documents are submitted to complete the MOF declaration with the competent units within six months of the date of death or from the date of the issuance of the true enforceable copy of the Will as the case may be.
Documents required to evaluate the asset Transfer Fee for the Estate:
- The Probate Decision.
- The Will if it exists.
- For unbuilt properties:
- A statement of the total surface size.
- Location map.
- Statement of contents issued by the municipality.
- For apartments and disaggregated sections:
- A statement of the total surface size.
- Statement of contents issued by the municipality.
- Built property tax clearance.
- For shares in companies:
- Statement from the Commercial Register.
- Audited Budget for the last two years prior to death.
- Auditor’s report for the last two years prior to the year of death.
- Statements by banks or financial institutions of the deceased’s accounts.
- Vehicle ownership license.
- A copy of any treasury bond owned.
- Documents showing any debts owed to or by the Estate.
Ninth: Payment of the Transfer Fee
The MOF calculates the Transfer Fee charged to the estate and each heir accordingly. The fee must be paid within two months of the service date subject to a late collection fine of 1 percent of the fee for each month of delay.
The heirs can submit an objection to within two months of the date of notification.
The tax administration deducts a family allowance quota from the total value of the Estate.
The family allowance quota is calculated as follows:
- 120 million LBP for children, grandchildren, spouses and parents.
- 48 million LBP for brothers and grandparents.
- 24 million LBP for the rest of the heirs.
Relative fee rate for Spouses, children and grandchildren:
Net Estate Value subject to a Transfer Fee
1 to 30 million
30 to 60 million.
60 to 100 million
100 to 200 million
Over 200 million.
The applicable transfer fee for the rest of the heirs is subject to different rates of up to 45% depending on the degree of kinship.
Ten: Real estate transfer process
Transfer transactions are conducted with the Assistant Head of the Real Estate Office of the Land Registry Secretariat of the property’s location.
- An enforceable copy of the Probate Decision.
- The clearance issued by the competent MOF financial department.
- Title deeds.
- The notarized SPA.
Eleven: Liens or any security interest granted over an Estate property to secure the payment of a debt.
In the event of the existence of any Lien or restriction on the property, the heirs or the insurance company (in the event of a life insurance policy) must pay the debt owed to the creditor bank, which signs a de-insurance contract for the plot before the notary attached to the origin of a certificate under insurance and a tax book addressed to the competent MOF financial departments.
A proportional fee is paid at a rate of about Four percent (4%) of the value of the entire debt, so that the real estate departments will remove the Lien and issue a new cleared title deed.
Twelve: Life insurance policy
An insurance policy declaration is provided to the MOF with the following:
- A letter issued by the life insurance company showing the value of the compensation due and the names of the beneficiaries.
- A copy of the life insurance contract.
- A copy of the beneficiary ID.
The transfer fee on life insurance is paid at a rate of Five percent (5%) of the specified value of the insurance and the transaction is then pursued in order to issue the certificate required to be addressed to the insurance company so that the beneficiary may receive the value of the life insurance policy.
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- Decree Law No. 146 – issued on 12 June 1959.
- The Law of 7 March 1929 concerning the will of non-Muhammadans.
- Inheritance Law for Non-Muhammadans, Law of 23 June 1959
- Law of 18 June 1929 (inheritance between Lebanese and foreigners and among foreigners of different nationalities.)
- Conditions for the application of the Transfer Fee Act to movable and immovable assets. Decree No. 2827 of 14 December 1959.
- Ministry of Finance website (http://finance.gov.lb/en-us)
- For more detailed info also refer to: http://www.institutdesfinances.gov.lb/publications/
(دليل المواطنة والمواطن إلى رسم الإنتقال وإجراءاته”، معهد باسل فليحان المالي والاقتصادي – وزارة المالية اللبنانية، الطبعة الرابعة، 2018 )