Succession to an estate may be either by will or by operation of law.
A Will is normally made for the purpose of making dispositions of property, which take effect after the testator’s death. The testator may also appoint one or more executors, who are the people who manage or assist in managing any part of the estate. The executor has to reside in Cyprus, since the whole procedure is under the supervision of the Court.
The validity of a Will for immovable property is determined by the legislation of the country where the real property is situated.
A person of full age (more than 18 years of age) and sound mind may make a valid Will and there is no restriction on persons convicted on crimes or aliens.
A Will may always be revoked by a new Will expressly revoking the former one or by a subsequent inconsistent Will or by destroying the Will by the testator.
According to the relevant legislation, a Will is deemed to be revoked: (a) by the marriage of the testator if it takes place after he makes the Will or (b) by the birth of a testator’s child, if at the time of the making of the Will the testator had no children.
A testator can dispose with a Will only a portion of his property, if he dies leaving children and a spouse.
According to legislation which was enacted in August 2015, even a testator who was born in Britain or the British Commonwealth cannot exclude children and spouse from the inheritance of his estate. However, a foreign citizen may expressly declare in his Will or a Codicil that he or she wishes the succession law of his/ her country to be applicable to the Will. Consequently, he/ she will direct that the succession of the assets in Cyprus, to be governed by the law of the testator’s nationality (European Succession Regulation No 650/2012).
Any Will is valid if it is in writing, it is signed by the testator and the signature is made in the presence of two witnesses.
Any person may deposit his Will with the Registrar of the District Court, so it will be in the Registrar’s safe custody.
A question that we usually hear from expatriates is: ‘I made a Will in the U.K., is it necessary to have a Will in Cyprus?’
The answer is that: ‘It is not compulsory to have a second Will in Cyprus, but it is advisable, because:
If you have a Will in Cyprus, the executor of that Will, after the testator’s death, will make a straight forward application to the Court here and he can easily obtain letters for the administration of the estate. But, if there is only one Will in the U.K., the executor will apply to the High Court in the U.K. and after he obtains letters of administration there, he will appoint somebody in Cyprus with a Power of Attorney to make a new application in Cyprus for the re-sealing of the British Will, and for the administration of the property, so the procedure is double.
The second reason for having a Will in Cyprus is that, the testator will determine with certainty who the heirs of his property in Cyprus are.
The third reason is that the property in the U.K. will not be mixed with the property in Cyprus, something which may be beneficial for tax reasons.
Speaking about taxes, we would like to make clear that there is no inheritance tax in Cyprus. Inheritance tax was abolished in the year 2000.