Inheritance Law in Greece
Valmas & Associates - Greek Law firm provide an insight on Greek Inheritance Law for Greek expats who may require assistance in the complex matter of clearing a Greek inheritance.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON GREEK INHERITANCE LAW:
Valmas & Associates - Greek Law Firm is a law practice with legal experience for clearing up Greek inheritances on behalf of expatriates and foreign nationals.
Greek Inheritance Law is regulated by the Hellenic (Greek) Civil Code, Art. 1710 – 2035. It is similar to French and German Inheritance law, but it is radically different from English and American inheritance law.
Our legal assistance in Greek inheritance issues includes tracing property title anywhere in Greece; investigating the legal and actual status of the property to be inherited, providing full legal reports including documentation & evidence such as photographs.
Greek Inheritance Law (part of the Hellenic (Greek) Civil Code) provides the passing of the deceased's property to his legal heirs in two ways: by virtue of a will or through the rules related to intestacy.
In case that the deceased has left a Greek will, the bequest of the inherited property, i.e. the transfer of the property under the names of his heirs, appointed by the deceased, and to what property parts they are entitled to, is arranged according to the provisions of the Greek will. The law provides three types of Greek wills:
• The Holographic Will: It is written entirely by the hand of the testator, who writes the date of the Will, and signs same, verifying its content.
• The Public Will: It consists of the testator's last will and testament and is executed before a Notary Public under the presence of three witnesses.
• The Mystic/Secret Will: It is validly executed as follows: The testator delivers the document to the Notary Public, stating that the document consists of his last Will and testament, under the presence of three witnesses.
Upon the passing away of the testator, the will has to be probated before the competent Court or before the competent Embassy or Consulate in order for the Greek Will's content to become known to anyone. Every person holding a Greek will is obliged to take care of its probate. The Greek will is probated, only if the original document can be submitted before the competent Probate Court or Consulate, regardless of its validity. Copies of wills cannot be probated.
2. INTESTACY RULES:
In case that the deceased has not left a will, or in case that the will has been nullified or in case that the will settles only parts of the deceased's inheritance, the succession is settled by law through the rules of intestacy.
As aforesaid, If the deceased has not left a will of any kind, or the will is void for any reason or settles only a part of his/her property, this person is considered to be in intestacy, and its succession is regulated by provisions of the law. The legal heirs are organized by the law in categories, called “classes” or "ranks". Classes of heirs exclude the classes below them i.e. class 1 excludes class 2 and so forth.
1. The first class includes children and grandchildren of the deceased. The latter are called to the inheritance only if the former have predeceased.
2. In the second class shall be called together the parents of the deceased, his brothers and sisters, as well as children and grandchildren of his predeceased brothers and sisters. Parents and brothers and sisters shall inherit by equal portions while the children or grandchildren of predeceased brothers and sisters per stripes. Children of a predeceased brother or sister shall exclude grandchildren of the same stripes.
Half-brothers and half-sisters when concurring with parents or full brothers and sisters or children or grandchildren of the latter (of full brothers and sisters) shall receive one half of the portion attributable to full brothers and sisters. Children or grandchildren of predeceased half-brothers and half-sisters shall also receive one half portion.
3. In the third class shall be called the grandfathers and grandmothers of the deceased and among the descendants of such grandparents their children and grandchildren.
Children inherit by equal portions and exclude grandchildren of the other stripes. Grandchildren inherit per stripes.
4. In the fourth class shall be called the great grandfathers and the great grandmothers of the principal.
Great grandfathers and great grandmothers living at the time of devolution shall inherit by equal portions irrespective of whether or not they belong to the same or to different lines.
A surviving spouse shall be called as heir in an intestacy together with the other relatives of first rank for one fourth and with the relatives of other ranks for one half of the estate. The spouse shall in addition receive as accretion, independently of the rank of his calling, the furniture, utensils, clothes and other similar domestic objects that were being used either by the surviving spouse alone or by both spouses. However, where there are children of the spouse who died, the needs of such children shall also be taken into consideration in so far as this is prescribed by special circumstances or on grounds of indulgence.
5. In the fifth class, where there are no relatives of the first, second, third and fourth rank a surviving spouse shall be called as heir in intestacy for the whole of the estate.
6. In the sixth class in he absence of all the above, the State inherits the estate of the deceased.
ACCEPTING THE GREEK INHERITANCE:
Greek Inheritance Law does not provide of a specific deadline for accepting an inheritance. On the contrary, the law provides a specific deadline for the renouncement of the Greek inheritance right on a deceased's Greek estate. This deadline expires within four (4) months upon the deceased's passing or after the Greek will's probate by the competent Court or Consulate. Said deadline expires a year after the deceased's passing or after the Will's probate, in case that the deceased's last domicile was abroad or if his heir became aware of the passing while he was residing abroad.
After the passing of the above deadlines for renouncement, it is conferred that the heir has accepted the estate and has substituted into the rights and obligations arising from the Greek Inheritance. The heir has the right to accept the Greek Estate by stating clearly that he accepts same, finalizing the Acceptance of Inheritance proceedings. However, in case that the Greek Inheritance consists of real estate property, the Acceptance of Inheritance is accomplished through the execution of an Acceptance of Inheritance Deed before a Notary Public, which has to be registered before the competent Greek Land Registry (Ypothikofilakeio/ Υποθηκοφυλακείο) of the property's location and in some cases maybe the Greek Cadastral Land Registry (Ktimatologio/ Κτηματολόγιο) as well.
The heirs, (in intestacy or by virtue of a Will), must file an inheritance tax statement within 6 months, if Greece domiciled, or within 12 months, if they live abroad. The time limit for the submission of the tax statement in principle begins as of the passing; and/or the Greek will's probate date.
The inheritance tax obligation is subject to an assessment of the Estate's tax value in consideration of consanguinity levels to the deceased and applicable tax exemptions.
The procedure of the Probate and the Acceptance of an Greek Inheritance, may be accomplished through a Special Power of Attorney to a specialized Greek Lawyer, like Valmas & Associates - Greek Law Firm.
MINIMUM FORCED INHERITANCE SHARE (Nomimi Mira/Νόμιμη Μοίρα)
In Greece the minimum forced inheritance share (“Nomimi Mira/ Νόμιμη Μοίρα”) employed by the Hellenic (Greek) Civil Code so that it limits a testator’s right to dispose of his estate freely.
The underlying purpose of the minimum forced inheritance share is the safeguarding of the testator’s close relatives and spouse.
In practice, according to the Hellenic Civil Code, a testator is prohibited from excluding from his will his children, spouse and parents. A part of the testator’s estate must be distributed to the above relatives. The minimum forced inheritance share must be equivalent to half of the inheritance share that each individual family member would be legally entitled to, had the testator died intestate (i.e. without leaving a will). However, the minimum forced inheritance share is reduced accordingly where any contributions that the testator may have granted to each of the above heirs while living, are found.
Which is the right time limit to Contest a Will on the grounds of doubting the mental ability of the deceased?
According to the law, lack of capacity to draw up a will exists by law to: 1. Those who are under age. 2. Those placed under judicial assistance and fully deprived of their legal capacity or expressly deprived of the capacity to draw up a Will. 3. Those who at the time of drawing up of the Will were not conscious of their acts or were in a spiritual or mental disturbance that limited decisively the functioning of their Will. In this case the potential heir has to file a petition to First Instance Court of the deceased last residence, which is the competent Court in order to contest the validity of the testator’s Will. However the key time limit to file a petition to contest a Will is two years after its publication.
How do i renounce an inheritance?
As the intestate succession is based on ranks, when a heir (either intestate or by will) renounces the inheritance, his descendants are called as next heirs and so on. When the final descendant (heir) is minor, the person who has parental care has to apply before the First Instance Court in order to renounce the inheritance on behalf of the minor. The time period for each renunciation is four months, after the death of the principal, or the publication of the Will. For those residing abroad the time period for renunciation of an inheritance is one year.