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Make your Will and find your easy way out

27 March 2015


Inheritance can be a frightening subject. Some might say that the legal framework and potential court procedures are intimidating. However, it is also a matter of culture. Most Cypriot families resist openly discussing inheritance. Children may avoid bringing up the issue for fear of hurting the sentiments of their parents. For parents, the fear could be that the children may not be motivated to work if they come to know the value of the fortune they are likely to inherit or that disputes may arise between them in terms of distribution. The truth yet is the same; not discussing something that is going to happen will not stop it from happening. And at some point, someone – most probably a lawyer – is going to have to sort out the estate – regardless of how big or small it is.

It is therefore strongly advisable for an owner of assets in Cyprus irrespective of their nationality to make a will in Cyprus. Cyprus law governs the disposal of immovable property in Cyprus, including restrictions regarding the statutory portion. With regards to non-Cypriots it is even advisable to make a Cyprus will, as this avoids the need for re-sealing of an overseas probate. This would otherwise be necessary to allow a representative appointed under a foreign grant of probate to deal with assets in Cyprus.

In order to make a Cyprus will, the testator must have testamentary capacity, which usually depends upon country of birth. Certain individuals are also able to dispose of their assets by will. The will is not valid unless it is in writing and executed in the following manner: signed by: the testator; or some other person on the testator’s behalf; in the testator’s presence; and under the testator’s direction.

The signature must be made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time, who must sign the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. If the will consists of more than one sheet of paper, each sheet must be signed or initialled by or on behalf of the testator and the witnesses. Wills may be deposited with the Probate Registrar of the District Court who will issue a receipt to this effect, or may be entrusted for safe keeping with lawyers.

In the end, with careful planning, family assets can be distributed without any fear. Even assets which are due to pass according to the forced heirship rules, which essentially divide the estate into the portion passed by a will or by law, can be passed according to the individual’s personal wishes through alternative estate planning mechanisms, such as gifts and trusts. You can thus make your will and find your easy way Michael Vorkas & Associates LLC can help you make careful estate planning should you have assets in Cyprus and wish to think ahead.

Marialena Constantinou

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