The law of inheritance in Cyprus is embodied in a system of rules governing and determining who will inherit a person’s estate when that person passed away. The rules are fairly complex and inheritance depends upon which family members survive the deceased.
The estate will be divided into two sections:
- The Disposable Section
- The Compulsory Section
The Disposable Section is that portion of the estate which can be passed by will. The exact share of the Disposable Section will depend on who the surviving relatives are and will usually vary between a quarter and half of the entire estate.
The rules relating to the Compulsory Section, also, depend upon who the surviving relatives are at the date of death. Special provision is made for a surviving spouse who will inherit a share, a share which will depend upon who the other surviving relatives are. The most common case scenario will be where the spouse and children survive the deceased, in which case the surviving spouse’s share is equal to that of each child. However, even if there are no children or descendants of children, the surviving spouse’s share will be determined according to the existence of other relatives of the deceased. The assumption made by many people that under Cyprus law the spouse will inherit all of his or her partner’s assets is therefore clearly incorrect.
To Whom Do The Cyprus Rules Apply?
The Cyprus rules apply to:
- The estate of a person domiciled in Cyprus
- The immovable property of those not domiciled in Cyprus.
Therefore, in order to determine whether the Cyprus law will apply to an individual, he or she must firstly determine his or her country of domicile. Domicile is a tricky area of law and a person’s country of domicile is not the same as his or her country of residence. Broadly speaking domicile will be determined by examining a person’s country of permanent residency.
Who Can Make A Will in Cyprus?
Special concession has been made allowing some people to make a will in Cyprus. In Cyprus a person who, or whose father, was born in the UK or in a Commonwealth country is allowed to make a will governing who will inherit the whole of his or her estate in Cyprus.
Types of Will
If a person is entitled to make a will to govern his or her assets in Cyprus then careful consideration must be given to the interrelationship between the Cyprus will and any other existing will covering assets in another country. For example, an English person may have an English will in place, to deal with his or her estate in England. A corresponding Cyprus will can be drawn up to sit alongside the English will, purely to deal with the Cyprus estate. Great care must be taken to include specific wording which will ensure that the second Cyprus will does not revoke or replace the English will, so that both documents work smoothly side by side.
If You Cannot Make a Will
If the Cyprus rules apply to you and you do not fall within the category of a person who, or whose father, was born in the UK or in a Commonwealth country, then you can still take steps to plan for what will happen to your estate in Cyprus when you die, i.e. the establishment of trusts and making of lifetime gifts can be utilised to ensure that your estate passes in the manner you wish.