Under the Finnish code of succession (40/1965) it is possible to make a will in favor of anyone, but the direct descendants always have a right to a lawful share – half the estate. Direct descendants meaning child, adoptive child, grandchild etc.
For example, if the deceased had two children, who would normally inherit the whole estate, but he/she made a will that gave everything to a third party, then the children still receive one half of the estate, that is one quarter for each child. If there are no direct descendants the third party will inherit the entire estate based on the testament.
In the absence of a will, the principles found in chapters 1-3 in the Finnish code of succession shall apply in the following order:
- If the deceased, without a spouse, leaves children, the estate will be divided equally between the children. The share of a predeceased child is vested in said child’s descendants per representation. Only a person who was alive at the time of the death of the deceased may inherit.
- If the deceased is married (the concept of marriage is under review in Finland) and does not have any descendants, the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate. The deceased’s parents inherit, as subsequent heirs, only on the death of the surviving spouse. Consequently, the spouse inherits before the deceased’s parents even if there is no will in favor of the spouse.
- If the deceased is single, without children, the estate is divided equally between his/her parents. Brothers and sisters take the place of the parents.
The list goes on with stepsiblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Cousins do not inherit in the absence of a will.