Legal Reserve of Inheritance for an Estate in Korea

Korea’s Legal Reserve of Inheritance/mandatory share of inheritance (유류분/遺留分) is a specific portion of an inheritance given to heirs notwithstanding the will. Therefore, for example, even if the will notes that a certain estranged child shall not receive any of the inheritance, Korean Law imposes a mandatory share of the estate for this heir. Therefore, the deceased is forced by Korean law to provide a certain percentage of the estate to all legal heirs under Korea’s Inheritance Reserve Law. For an article on the basics of Korean Inheritance Law please see: Korean Inheritance Law and Korean Inheritance Tax.

Calculation of Krea’s legal reserve of inheritance is governed, primarily, by the Korean Civil Act.

Article 1112 (Persons with Right to Legal Reserve of Inheritance and Legal Reserve of Inheritance)
Legal reserve of inheritance for an inheritor shall be calculated according to the following subparagraphs:
1. For lineal descendants (직계비속) of an inheritee, one half of the inheritance stipulated by law;
2. For the spouse (배우자) of an inheritee, one half of the inheritance stipulated by law;
3. For lineal ascendants (직계존속) of an inheritee, one third of the inheritance stipulated by law;
4. For brothers and sisters (형제자매) of an inheritee, one third of the inheritance stipulated by law.

Korean Civil Act, Article 1112

Thus, a legal reserve is not available for all heirs. The law, only, protects – lineal descendants, the spouse, lineal ascendants, and brothers and sisters of the decedent.

Deductions or additions can be made to the legal share based on gifts provided to an heir before the death of the decedent. When shortages in the legal reserve of inheritance are due to gifts made by the decedent pursuant to the provisions of Article 1114 of the Korean Civil Act, heirs with the right to a legal reserve of inheritance may recover the shortage from the estate or the other heirs directly. All debts of the estate are deducted from the estate prior to the calculation of the Korean Legal Reserve of Inheritance.

Please note this Legal Reserve has a strict statute of limitation that tolls in only one year from the date of knowledge that the inheritance process has commenced.

Sean Hayes is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw, and IPG Legal is consistently ranked Top Dispute Resolution Law for our litigation services.  

For a consultation with an estate and asset protection law attorney: please schedule a call with a Korean estate lawyer.

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