Doing business in a foreign country can be challenging. Having a partner from a different culture could be enriching. When an expat decides to get married in Estonia, there are things he/she should know regarding marital property protection. Here are only some of them:

1. Choose your marital proprietary relationship carefully, as it will determine the legal status of everything that you will acquire or create during the marriage. Under Estonian law, there are three types of proprietary relationships to choose from – (i) joint property, (ii) separateness of property and (iii) set-off of assets increment. If the spouses fail

to choose a proprietary relationship when getting married, the form of joint property shall be applied – everything that you will acquire or create as of getting married will be considered the joint property of the spouses.

2. Enter into a Marital Property Contract to exclude specific items from the joint property of the spouses. In case you have chosen joint property as your proprietary relationship, but you wish to consider some of the items as your separate property, you can do so by entering into a Marital Property Contract. Off course, the Marital Property Contract must be entered into by both spouses!

3. Register the Marital Property Contract with the Marital Property Register in order for the Marital Property Contract to have any legal consequences in relations with third parties.

4. Be aware that some of the assets shall be considered as separate property of the spouse under law. Such items include (i) personal effects of the spouse, (ii) objects which were in the ownership of the spouse before the marriage or objects acquired by the spouse during the marriage by disposal without charge, including as a gift or by succession and (iii) objects which the spouse acquires on the basis of a right belonging to his/ her separate property or as compensation for the destruction of, damage to or seizure of objects included in his/her separate property or on the basis of a transaction entered into with regard to his/her separate property.

5. A gift that one spouse makes to the other may be considered as joint property.

6. Enter into transactions with regard to the joint property and conduct legal disputes relating to the property only jointly or with the consent of your spouse. A transaction with respect of objects included in joint property entered into without the consent of a spouse is void, unless the latter ratifies it later.

7. The spouses shall be solidarily liable for the commitments they have taken in the interest of the family. When spouses make a transaction with the joint property, they shall be solidary obligees with respect to the obligated party of the transaction.

8. Obligations that are not taken in the interest of the family shall be performed only by the spouse who has taken them.

9. Proprietary relationship of the spouses terminates, if (i) one of the spouses dies; (ii) a Marital Property Contract is entered into which establishes another marital proprietary relationship prescribed by law; (iii) a marriage is divorced or (iv) proprietary relationship is terminated by a court order.

10. After termination of the proprietary relationship, the spouses shall divide the property. Joint property of the spouses shall be divided in equal shares, unless otherwise agreed. The obligations encumbering joint property shall be performed in the course of the division of property or shall be divided between the spouses similarly to other property.

Katrin Kahn