Wills and Inheritance in Cyprus
The purpose of a Will is to communicate your wishes as to what will happen with your assets and decide who you want to deal with your assets after your death. It is a legal document setting out the people to inherit specified parts of your estate.
Thinking ahead the future of your beloved ones should become priority and by making a Will, you are thinking ahead. Beneficiaries will not have to go with the legal cargo for administering the estate and can be assure that your wishes will be attained by leaving the work to professionals.
Cyprus Law & the forced heirship system
Cyprus law follows the forced heirship system, which means that the person making the Will is forced to leave certain proportions of their estate to particular relatives while English law recognizes the testamentary freedom which in essence, it allows you to choose whoever you want to inherit your estate and in whatever proportions. That said, if you have or are about to acquire assets in Cyprus you should consider how they will be dealt with after you die to ensure that the process of administering your Cypriot estate is as smooth as possible for your loved ones.
Assets owned in Cyprus
Dealing with cross border Wills and estates can be extremely complex and it is advisable to seek legal advice in relation to your wills and inheritance matters. Assuming you are domiciled in England and Wales and have assets in both England and Cyprus. The best way to deal with your estate in Cyprus is to contact a lawyer established in Cyprus and has the appropriate experience to assist you accordingly.
Cyprus Inheritance Law
A carefully drafted English Will can include and deal with assets both found in England and Cyprus given the fact that Cypriot Law does recognize a Will that is prepared in another country. However, we highly recommend to clients owning property in Cyprus to make a separate Cypriot Will to deal with their assets in Cyprus as this will avoid delays, reduce costs and possible complications in the estate administration.
Otherwise and in the presence of one English Will and only, the legal heirs will require the assistance of both UK and Cyprus lawyers in order to succeed a reseal of the Grant of Probate of the English Will via court procedure under Cyprus legislation that in essence will permit the Cyprus lawyer/administrator to administer the Cyprus property following the last wishes of the deceased for the benefit of the legal heirs.
As noted above, the forced heirship system applies in Cyprus and owners of Cyprus property should seek advice early enough and make relevant arrangements of what will happen to their property after they pass away.
Cyprus estate and administration process
The Executor (if appointed in a Will) or Administrator (if appointed by law) is in charge of administering and dealing with the deceased’s estate. The appointed Executor or Administrator is personally liable for the value of the estate under administration and is responsible to collect and ascertain the value of the estate, ensure payments of taxes and settle possible debts before proceeding with the administration of the estate to the beneficiaries.
What if Cyprus assets are included in the English Will?
If the deceased had an English Will but no Cypriot Will, was not a resident of the Republic of Cyprus, but he/she has property in his/her name in Cyprus, it will be necessary for the validity of the Will to be confirmed by a Grant of Probate obtained in England. The application may be made by the Executor or the Administrator or their attorney, duly authorized to re-seal the grant.
Once a Grant of Probate has been obtained in England, the Executor or Administrator or the appointed lawyer can apply to the Cyprus courts for a reseal of the Grant of Probate. This will then allow him/her to administer the assets and distribute these to the beneficiaries.
If there is a Cypriot Will, a Grant of Probate will need to be applied for in Cyprus by the personal representative who must submit to the tax authorities a statement of assets and liabilities of the deceased before the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. The two Wills will be dealt separately and the estates accordingly.
Our firm has a competitive and transparent pricing policy and we always provide clients with a detailed quote fee at the commencement of instructions. We do not believe in hidden costs and any additional or optional costs will also be detailed at the outset as will any anticipated disbursements or third-party costs, for example Court fees, official translations, certification costs, Land Registry fees etc.