More to Know About Inheritance Conflicts


In Indonesia, legal heirs --the predecessor’s children and spouse, or if none, parents-- as determined by KUH Perdata article 852 are automatically entitled to the inheritance, whether or not they were written into the will. So if you are a legal heir, you do not have to worry about being “left out of the will.”

Nevertheless, a predecessor may allocate up to 25% of his or her assets to individuals or entities other than the ones determined in article 852, for instance to charity. If more than 25% of the inheritance is allocated to someone who is not a legal heir, then legal heirs can dispute this by filing a claim to either the Civil Court or the Religious Court.

Legally incapable heirs

An heir may be deemed legally incapable -- "tak cakap hukum"-- if he or she is under 17 years of age, mentally ill, alcoholic, or an irresponsible spender who requires legal assistance to make decisions.

In this case, the legally incapable heir will need the assistance of a legal custodian, which usually is a parent, older sibling, or other trusted family member. Being the custodian of a legally incapable heir does not increase the custodian’s share of the inheritance, or make the custodian a legal heir if he or she is otherwise not one.

Sometimes a custodian who is not a family member may also be hired to manage the legally incapable heir’s inheritance on a professional basis.

Losing the right to one’s inheritance

From the date of the predecessor’s death, heirs have 30 years to claim the inheritance before the right to claim expires.

An heir can lose rights to the inheritance if he or she, by the judge’s verdict, is proven in court to have committed a crime against the predecessor. This includes:

  • Having murdered or attempted to murder the predecessor
  • Having committed libel against the predecessor for a crime that carries a penalty of 5 years in prison or more
  • Having committed a violent act that prevented the predecessor from writing or revoking his or her will
  • Having misappropriated, damaged, or falsified the predecessor’s will.

In Muslim families, religious differences can also be legal grounds for losing one’s inheritance. In this case, non-Muslim members of a Muslim family, or someone who would otherwise be a legal heir but has converted out of Islam, are not entitled to the inheritance.

How to resolve disputes

Legal action involves filing a case to the Religious Court if you are Muslim, and Civil Court if you are not. The procedure will consist of registration, receiving the subpoena, a first session to check the identities of the heirs or their legal representatives, follow-up sessions to verify the evidence, and the verdict. A typical case takes about 6 weeks to 3 months.

Tip: You can also educate yourself by consulting free resources such as www.hukumonline.com or the legal library at Pusat Studi Hukum dan Kebijakan (PSHK) in Puri Imperium Office Plaza, Jl Kuningan Madya kav 5-6, Jakarta. If you encounter a problem, it is also a good idea to see a lawyer who practices family law and consult your case before making any decision.

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