Real Estate Blog

Succession in Greece

06 Oct 2014

Legal, by Athina Ledaki, Lawyer/Accredited Mediator (CEDR)

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Inheritance in Greece  

Inheritance issues involving property located in Greece are governed by the law of the foreign decedent's nationality, therefore if according to his country national law the applicable law regarding inheritance is that of the country where the property is located then Greek inheritance law is applied.A foreigner, therefore, is able to dispose of his property in Greece after death without the restrictions that apply to Greek citizens as long this complies with his country legislation.

Rules of succession

In the absence of a will, there are six classes of intestate heirs. Basic rule: The nearest degree excludes a more remote degree.

  • first class: children, grandchildren, great grandchildren of the deceased
  • second class: parents, brothers and sisters of the deceased and the children and grandchildren of the brothers and sisters of the deceased who died before him
  • third class: grandparents of the deceased or their children and grandchildren if they do not survive
  • fourth class: great grandparents of the deceased.

The surviving spouse of the deceased, receives ¼ of the estate along with the first class heirs and ½ of the estate aling with all other classes. If there are no heirs in any of the classes above, the spouse inherits all the property of the deceased.

If there are no relatives, nor spouse, the heir is the State of the deceased’s nationality.

In case of a will, there is a portion of the estate property necessarily left to the heirs by law. Any will dispositions against this rule is null and void, therefore in such a case, the forced heir has the right to demand the annulement of the will.

A foreigner's will

In case of a foreigner, deceased in Greece, following the rule that Inheritance issues involving property located in Greece are governed by the law of the foreign decedent's nationality, he could write his will without any restrictions of forced heirship that apply to Greek citizens, as long as the testamentary dispositions are acceptable under his national law. It is therefore concluded that legally there is no need for a foreigner to make a Greek will, that is a will in Greece, following the rules of the Greek legislation. However, in the absence of a Greek will, the heir of a foreign deceased with property in Greece wouldhave to take the foreign decoument which would decide the validity of the foreing will (e.g. probate by the English surrogate court) to the Greek court, to make it enforceable in Greece. For that reason, it is advisable that whenever a testator wishes arrangements other than those envisaged by intestate succession he couls simply make his will in Greece regarding his property in Greece.

So, he could either make a “holographic” will, which is handwritten, dated and signed by him personally and can be kept anywhere or handed over by the deceased to a notary to keep in his archives.He could also either make a “public” will, made before a notary in the presence of three witnesses, non related to the deceased.The third type is a secret will, not necessarily handwrittten but signed by him, put in a sealed envelope and handed to the notary in the presence of three witnesses.

Accept the inheritance

Upon the death of the testator, the Greek will has to be probated before the competent Court so that its content becomes known. The person in possession of the will (lawyer, notary, relative) is obliged to take care of its probate. There is no specific deadline for accepting an inheritance, there is, however a four month deadline for the renouncement of the inheritance rights on the Greek property of the deceased starting from the date of the death or from the date the will is probated by the competent Greek court. If the four months pass it is conferred that the heir has accepted the property, he should consequently declare the inheritance to the completent tax office within a time limit of six months (or 12 months if he lives abroad), sign the act of inheritance either by the competent Court Secretary, either by a Greek Notary and finally have it registered at the local land regirsty or cadastal office.

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