International Inheritance Laws

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Albania inheritance laws

            Until the 1940’s the country of Albania only gave men the right to inherit real property such as land and houses. Women could only inherit personal property such as clothes and jewelry which they rarely inherited because clothing diminishes and jewelry usually was sold during financial crisis. Wills of testament were not used in Albania, property automatically was given to the sons equally if more than one. If a husband dies or sells his property he can only leave it to his son or sell it to his closest male relative. Sons are first to inherit from their fathers. Daughters cannot inherit from their fathers nor wives from their husbands.

After privatization gender roles as well as property rights changed. Women were able to inherit however, gave up their right to inherit family property when they married. The inheritance laws gives women the right to inherit personal property although their traditional laws would only allow males to inherit. In the different regions of Albania the villagers have different feelings to the distribution process in which all family members inherit equal shares of the land. Agriculture is the main source of income so farm land is the main inheritance. It is common for men to write wills in which they leave nothing to their wife and or daughters, with no objections.

The head of the household who is the husband signs a “tapi” which is a legal document stating its his families land. Women rarely sign the tapi although it is legal by law. The different regions have different views on the inheritance laws versus tradition. In the northern region, which is isolated more so from outside influences they follow tradition. Women do cannot buy, sell or own real property. In the central region the women’s views are similar. They should not inherit because they will marry anyway and they give up their right to inherit when they marry. Women do not object to the idea that they cannot inherit even if they worked on the land equally. In the southern district the women are more “stronger and independent” they follow the inheritance law that the land should be divided equally however, when a daughter marries she gives up her right to inherit.