So you find out that you have a rich uncle, who has sadly passed away, and has left you a large tract of land, in Cambodia. Given the recent real estate boom in the Kingdom, this would surely be welcome news (minus the news of your uncle).

Or is it?

As you begin researching Cambodian law governing testamentary gifts (wills), succession, and land, you soon realize that, as a foreigner, you are not permitted to own land in Cambodia.

So what will happen to the land that your uncle so thoughtfully left to you? According to the newly drafted Civil Code, which is set to take effect later this year, a foreigner who has been named a successor or co-successor to an estate, either by relations or will, has three months to sell the land, with the proceeds becoming the succession property. It will be important to observe the three-month timeframe to sell the land; otherwise the land will pass to the next available heir in succession who holds Cambodian nationality.

There are, of course, ways to sell the land and still maintain some control of it, namely selling it to a corporation of which you hold 49% and a Cambodian national holding 51%. However, if you don’t want to keep the land, be sure to sell it as quickly as possible, or risk forfeiting the gift from your favorite uncle.

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