When someone passes away, several inheritance issues rise in regards to the estate of the deceased. Often the heirs need to face several complex inheritance issues, especially when the inheritance involves beneficiaries from outside of Greece and the assets are in Greece. At Legal Trust we may help you in your inheritance matters swiftly and effectively. We have great experience in handling complex inheritance matters whether they consist of sizeable estates or just one piece of property or bank accounts in Greece. The lawyers of Legal Trust can provide you with the necessary information regarding your rights and obligations and we will secure your rights. Your solutions start at Legal Trust.
According to Greek Inheritance Law, the heirs of the deceased are the ones stated in the deceased’s Will and if there is no Will, then the succession is settled by law and specifically with the intestacy rules, which is based on the kinship with the deceased. If the estate consists of real estate property, then in order for the heir to acquire ownership of it, he/she will need to accept the deceased’s inheritance through the Acceptance of Inheritance Deed executed before a Notary Public and then register it before the competent Land Registry/Land Registry Bureau. If the estate consists of bank accounts, then several legal actions are required in order to prove to the bank who the heirs are and for them to be legalized before being able to acquire the balance of the accounts.
According to Greek Law there are three types of Wills. The Handwritten Will; The Public Will and the Secret Will.
The Handwritten Will must be written entirely by the hand of the testator. In the Will he/she must have written the full date of the day he/she has written the Will and he/she have signed the Will. Whoever finds the Handwritten Will of testator after his/her passing, is obliged according to Greek law to proceed with its probate.
Τhe Public Will is drafted by a Notary Public according to the wishes of the testator and it needs to be executed before the Notary Public before three witnesses. The testator does not receive a copy of the Public Will, as it is archived within the archives of the Notary Public. Only once the testator passes away, the Public Will may be probated.
The Secret Will is drafted by the testator and he/she delivers before three witnesses the Will to the Notary Public clearly stating that the document delivered is his/her Will. Upon the passing of the testator, the Secret Will is probated.
After the passing of the testator, the Greek Will of the testator needs to be probated before the competent Magistrate Court. The Greek Will is acceptable by the Court and probated only if it is the original Will, thus a certified copy of the will or a photocopy of the Will may not be probated as the testator’s Will. If the testator has a foreign Will, it will need to be probated abroad and only then the foreign Will may be registered within the Athens Magistrate Court. Once the foreign Will has been registered, then the heirs of the foreign Will may proceed in accepting the Greek property as part of the estate.
According to Greek Inheritance Law, it is forbidden for a testator to entirely disinherit his/her offspring, his/her spouse and his/her parents without legal cause and allows so for very specific reasons. If the reason for disinheriting a heir of the above, does not fall within the specific reasons that the law has set, or if the testator has bequeathed a smaller percentage of what the heir is entitled, then the heir is entitled to the minimum forced inheritance share right, which is set by the Law to 1/2 of the inheritance share that the heir would have, had the deceased died intestate (i.e. leaving no Will).
If a testator has left debts which are more than the property to be inherited, then the heir may decide to renounce the inheritance. According to Inheritance Law, the heir may renounce the inheritance within a timeframe of 4 months from the time that he/she found out of the death and if the deceased left a Will, then the 4 months start ‘running’ from the date that the Will was probated. If however, the deceased lived outside of Greece or the heir lives outside of Greece the timeframe is 1 year. Once the heir has renounced the inheritance, he does not inherit anything from the estate, meaning that he may not renounce only the debts and inherit, for instance, a house. The renouncement may not be reversed.
The Certificate of Heirs is a very powerful document which is issued by the competent Magistrate Court after an heir has submitted a petition for its issuance. This certificate states who are the heirs of the deceased and before whomever it is presented he/she is obliged to accept as heirs of the deceased the ones stated in the Certificate of Heirs.