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Part four – Making wills in Cyprus
This article is the fourth part in a series on inheritance and succession law in Cyprus and discusses how to make a will (for the first, second and third parts in the series see “Inheritance and succession: statutory portion”, “Inheritance and succession: what makes a person unworthy of succession?” and “Inheritance and succession: what share are relatives entitled to?”).
Definition and requirements
Under Cyprus law, a will is a written document in which a person, the testator, decides and specifies how their estate will be managed and distributed after death. Because of the legal importance of a will, the laws of descent and distribution require certain elements for a will to be valid.
Three essential elements
There are three essential elements that must be present in a will so that it can be declared valid.
Firstly, there must be a “competent testator”. This means that the person must be over the minimum age that is required by law (ie, over 18 years old), and that the person must be of “sound mind”. The testator can be described as having a “sound mind” when they are considered mentally well and can understand the nature and consequences of the testamentary act (i.e., awareness of writing a will, how much property they own, and the names of the heirs or other family members that are eligible to receive a share from the estate). The person must be competent at the time at which they make the will, as opposed to the date of their death, when the will takes effect.
Secondly, the document purporting to be a valid will must meet the well-known typical or “execution requirements of a will”, which the law defines. In Cyprus, these formalities relate to the writing, signing, witnessing and attestation of the will and ensure that the alleged will is the sincere expression of the testator’s intention and not a fraudulent document.
Therefore, a will must be in writing and must be signed by the testator or, with their consent, by any person under the testator’s direction or request. The testator must sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses who they recognize but are not a beneficiary of the will or a spouse and civil partner and confirm the testator’s signature.
The witnesses must:
- sign the will;
- be able to attest that the testator was competent at the time they made the will;
- acknowledge that the particular document corresponds to the testator’s will, with all the relevant consequences; and
- attest that this is what the testator honestly intended.
Finally, the third element of a valid will is the fact that it must be clear that the testator acted freely and honestly when expressing their testamentary intention. A will that was written and signed as a result of undue influence, fraud or mistake can be declared void in a probate proceeding.
If a will does not satisfy the above elements, any person who has a financial interest in the estate of the testator can start a court action to challenge the will’s validity.
Wills in Cyprus must be drafted by Cyprus lawyers. A Cyprus law firm will be able to provide wills and probate services, including the drafting and legalisation of wills and the administration and execution of a deceased’s property in Cyprus.
Part five – Degrees of consanguinity upon inheritance
This article is the fifth in a series on inheritance and succession law in Cyprus and discusses how the degrees of consanguinity are taken into account when calculating inheritance (for the first, second, third and fourth parts in the series, please see “Inheritance and succession: statutory portion”, “Inheritance and succession: what makes a person unworthy of succession?”, “Inheritance and succession: what share are relatives entitled to?” and “Making wills in Cyprus” (Part four above).
According to the provision of the Law on Wills and on Succession (Cap 195, s 44), a person becomes an inheritor if they have a consanguinity relationship up to the sixth degree with the deceased person.
When a person passes away leaving behind a spouse, the spouse is entitled to a share on the inheritance, after the payment of any debts and obligations.
Other relatives have rights on the inheritance according to the provision of the Law, which determines the consanguinity degrees as follows.
|3||Grandchildren||Uncles and aunts||Nephews and nieces||Great-grandparents|
|4||First cousins||Grandfather’s siblings||Grandparents’ parents|
|5||First cousins’ children||Grandfather’s siblings||Great-grandparents’ parents||Great-grandparents’ siblings|
The information provided by A.G. Paphitis & Co. LLC is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or formal legal advice. You should not act or refrain from acting based on any information provided above without obtaining legal or other professional advice.
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