Not using a lawyer when drawing up a will potentially carries many risks. We are dedicated to ensuring that you are not exposed to many of the potential risks. We can help protect your wealth and your families' inheritance, which is probably one of the most important things you will ever do. Wills and Estate Planning is so often overlooked but is one of the most important aspects of legal matters in your lifetime.
1. What is a Will?
1.1. A Will is a legal document that should state what you wish to happen to your money and your property when you die.
1.2. Cypriot law allows most foreigners the complete freedom to give what they have to whoever they want , so long as they are of sound mind when they make the Will, they are over 18 years old and provided they execute the will (sign it in front of two independent witnesses) in the correct manner.
1.3. Cypriot law restricts Cypriots in the way they leave their assets in their wills so that they are allowed to bequeath their property only as follows:
(a) Should the person have a spouse and children, children and grandchildren, spouse and grandchildren then only ¼ of their estate can be left elsewhere.
(b) Should they have a spouse, father or mother but no children or grandchildren then can leave ½ of their estate elsewhere.
(c) Should they not have a spouse, children or grandchildren nor father or mother, then they can leave all of their estate at their absolute choice.
2. Do I need a will?
If you own nothing, have no children, live alone and have no income then you do not need a Will, but if you own a property or have savings or have minor children, or live with someone, then it is always advisable to have a Will saying who should get what when you die. Wills and Estate Planning should be at the forefront of your legal priorities as it ensures your matters will be in order and will avoid and stress or confusion for everyone involved.
It is particularly important for co-habiting couples or joint tenants (within the meaning of English Law) to execute Wills.
Some Common Avoidable Problems:
- Joint tenants sometimes assume that if they do not make a Will, their share of any property in Cyprus will pass to their spouse automatically when they pass away. However if there is no will in place the rules of intestacy take over and the deceased's share of any property will go to the deceased's children and his wife/husband.
- Cohabiting couples have no claim on each other's estate. If one can prove that they had made a contribution to the assets of the Deceased which was not intended as a gift, they will have to sue their deceased partner's Estate to secure some money or share of a property from the Estate unless they have Deeds of Trust in place and as this is a claim only, they may sue and still get nothing.
Probate and Administration of Estate
1. If there is a Will
The Will usually names one or more persons to act as executors. Executors are the persons appointed by the Will to administer the estate. It is the responsibility of the executors (if they chose to accept the job) to deal with the often time consuming and lengthy procedure which needs to be undertaken to obtain Probate.
2. What if there is NO Will?
This is what we mean when we say the person has 'died intestate'. Unfortunately the procedure is more complicated and instead of having to apply for Probate, you have to apply for Letters of Administration. As there is no Will to appoint the executors, the person or persons to be responsible for administering the estate will have to be appointed by the Court. These persons are called the Administrators. Usually the Administrators are close relatives of the person who has died or lawyers but they must be persons entitled under the intestacy rules to act as administrators, and then carry out the same administrative duties as executors.
If there is no valid will in place the assets of the deceased will be divided to his/her next of kin in accordance with the order of priority as set out in the law. The Law gives priority to the nearest relatives in accordance with bloodline.
What we can do for you
- Consider if you need a Will at all
- Take instructions on what you want your Will to do and then examine in detail whether what you want is possible, practical, the likely consequences and alternative solutions
- Draw up your Will putting into effect your particular wishes after taking into account the above
- Discuss and test your capacity to make a Will
- Advise on possible claims and challenges to the Will
- Advise on the selection of executors, trustees and guardians for minor children
- Be appointed as your executors
- Advise you on the current inheritance Tax liability
- Suggest ways that you can reduce or avoid this liability and the possible benefits and disadvantages of each method
- Advise on trusts in the Will for spouses, minor children, persons under a disability and tax efficient trusts
- Agree to be appointed as the Administrators if there is no Will.
Contact us for a free initial consultation.
For more information please contact us.