WILLS AND PROBATES
If you only make one resolution this year make it a resolution to MAKE A WILL, and you can ensure that your estate will pass to whom you choose.
Many of you seem totally unaware that they require a Cyprus Will to protect your assets in this lovely island of Cyprus.
On the death of a person without a Will, his estate shall pass as a whole to his heirs, by the operation of the Law. Thus if somebody dies leaving behind a wife and three children, each one of them is entitled to one fourth of his estate. The wife’s share of the estate will be the one half if the deceased leaves no children but father, brother, uncle or nephew.
You need to appoint someone who is permanent resident in Cyprus, although you have the right to appoint whoever you wish. In the case that you appoint a non-resident of Cyprus as an executor, the Court has the discretion to oblige him to assign his duties to a person who is resident in Cyprus and appointed by the Court. Beware that to act as an executor is not the best activity ever as the role of the executor is important and carries with it personal responsibility. There is an incredibly bureaucratic procedure, everything is in Greek and you cannot avoid it. Many of those appointed executors, who are not professional advisors, usually appoint a lawyer to act on their behalf and undertake the probate.
You can deposit your will for safe custody with a Probate Registrar in the District Court who will issue a receipt to this effect or with any other person you choose. Our opinion is that this essential document should not be leaved it in the draw of an office.
It is sensible when making a will always seek expert help and professional advice which they can help you to minimize the risk of making blunders or bared your will (and subsequently your estate) to the peril of legal challenge.
As of 17/08/2015 the new European Regulation 650/12 came into force and essentially completely alters the existing legal framework of private international law rules in the field of inheritance law, as it applied to the Republic of Cyprus.
Further according to the amendment of the legislation concerning Wills and Succession Law 96(I)/2015, the article 42 is been abolished which concerned the absolute right of disposal in certain cases (mostly British subjects).
Article 20 of the Regulations provides that the law determined as applicable by the Regulation shall apply even if it is the law of a Member State.
Unlike the current Cypriot law which does not allow the choice of law by the deceased under any circumstances, Article 22 (1) of the EU Regulation provides for a person to choose as the law to govern his succession as a whole the law of the state whose nationality he possesses at the time of making the choice or at the time of the death. Further according to article 22(2) of the Rules, the choice of law should be a written declaration in the last Will.
EU Regulation No.650/2012 on matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession:
- It applies to all civil aspects of the succession to the estate of deceased. It does not apply to revenue (i.e. tax matters), customs, or administrative matters.
- The courts of the EU country in which the deceased was usually living at the time of death will have jurisdiction to rule on the succession as a whole.
- As a rule, the law applicable to the succession is the law of the country in which the deceased was usually living at their time of death. It can be the law of either an EU or non-EU country. The applicable law will govern the determination of the beneficiaries and their respective shares, the capacity to inherit, the liability for the debts under the succession, the powers of the heirs, the executors of the wills and the administrators of the estate and the sharing-out of the estate.
- However, before death, a person can instead choose that the applicable law should be the law of their country of nationality.
- The same law applies to the whole succession, irrespective of either the type of assets (moveable or immovable) concerned or the country of their location.
- It provides legal certainty to beneficiaries, simplifies proceedings and avoids conflicting decisions.
- It introduces a European Certificate of Succession to be used by heirs, legatees, executors of will or administrators of the estate to demonstrate their status and/or exercise their rights or powers in another EU country. Once issued, the European Certificate of Succession will be recognized in all EU countries without any special procedure being required.
- It applies to all EU countries, except the UK, Ireland and Denmark which will continue to apply their national law to international successions. The other EU countries will apply their national rules on recognition and enforcement to decisions given in these 3 countries.
- Decisions enforceable in the EU country where they have been issued are enforceable in another EU country when, on the application of an interested party, they have been declared enforceable there by the local court.
- It applies to deaths occur on and after 17th August 2015.
Although the Regulation is not opted by the UK, Ireland and Denmark, it will still affect those national who are resident in a Regulation Member State or have a connection, for example a holiday home.
There are no succession taxes such as inheritance tax in Cyprus for death which occurred on or after 1/1/2000.
Finally it is advisable that you should review your Will to ensure that your Wishes are met and your assets can be distributed as you wish in your Last Will & Testament. Keep in mind that any advice received in the past may no longer be applicable.
The authority given by the Courts which entitles the person named in the last Will of the deceased as the executor is described as Grant of Probate. The appointed executor has the obligation to collect the assets of a deceased person and to distribute those assets to people who are named as beneficiaries in the Will.
If a person dies without a will or does not appoint an executor in the will, the Court will appoint an administrator. In case where there are minor beneficiaries or under disability the court will appoint a minimum of two administrators. The administrator will administer the estate according to the laws of succession, will pay any debts of the deceased and distribute the property to the heirs.
Should you have any specific questions or require any information from us we are fully at your disposal and we would be pleased to make an appointment with us to discuss further the above issue and proceed with the drafting of your will or necessary amendments in your existing will or advice you on estate administration and probate matters.