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Wills

 

A lot of confusion surrounds the detailed treatment of Wills in the TRNC so we would advise every member with property/assets in the TRNC to have a will and to seek advice on validity and likely total costs for the whole process before finalisation. Otherwise you may burden your beneficiaries with a long complicated procedure and/or some high costs. If you die without leaving a will, your spouse will not automatically inherit your estate as in the UK. There are special formulae for an estates division with some different rules for British and Foreigners. Unmarried Partners do not have the same rights as the UK, there are other odd rules too. So the advice is to make a Will and make sure you think it well through first.

 

DISCLAIMER: This guide is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The information provided is on the basis of TRNC law at the time of writing. Please contact a Solicitor for specific advice, further updates and changes in law. Things change quickly in the TRNC, so we would ask members to contact BRS if any information they get is a variance with anything stated here.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: We are indebted to BRS member, TRNC Solicitor Pinar Öcal and BRS Solicitor Peyman Erginel for their advice on this matter. They both offer members free initial consultation and a discount on their standard fees. See BRS Discount List.

 

Drawing up a will:

 

It is lawful for every British citizen, who is of sound mind and has completed the age of eighteen years, to dispose of the disposable portion of their immovable and/or moveable property in the TRNC  by way of a will to anyone they wish.

 

Whether you are a permanent resident of TRNC or someone who only visits a few times a year, we recommend that you have a will prepared if you own a property in the TRNC since your UK will only covers you for assets in the UK.  So if you own a property here in TRNC, a car and have money in TRNC bank accounts, you will definitely need a TRNC will to ‘mirror’your UK will. It will make things simpler for a surviving spouse or partner if all major assets including say a car are registered in Joint names.

 

A valid will does not need to be drawn up by a Solicitor but it should be drawn up properly to be valid. It should be in writing and executed as described:

 

a) It shall be signed at the end of each page by the testator (person making the Will) in blue ink, or by some other person on their behalf, in their presence and by their direction; and

 

b) Such signature shall be made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and

 

c) Such witnesses shall attest and shall subscribe the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other, but no form of attestation shall be necessary; and

 

d) If the will consists of more than one sheet of paper each sheet shall be signed or initialled by or on behalf of the testator and by the witnesses as well.

 

e) The executor of your will should be a TRNC Citizen. This can either be someone that you know and you trust or alternatively you can appoint your lawyer as your executor to administer your estate upon your death. (NB According to TRNC Wills & Succession Laws, the Executor can be a foreigner but this is not considered practical if they are a non-Turkish speaker or live abroad). If beneficiaries agree an Executor can be changed at minimal cost. Ask a reputable Solicitor for details of this process.

 

Registering a will:

 

Once the will is duly signed and witnessed, you may wish to lodge your will at the District Court Probate Registry. A copy of the will would be filed with the Probate Registrar at the local District Court. The Probate Registrar checks that formalities have been complied with and will verify the identity of the testator. The will is stamped and then filed at Court’s safe. When lodging the wills at the court, you would need 48 TL worth of stamps of which 42 TL worth of stamps are placed on the original will which gets deposited into the court’s safe and the remaining 6TL is needed for the wills registration book. 

 

Once the will registration is completed, you will be given a receipt from the District Court Probate Registry confirming your will deposit number. You can use the given receipt at any time to withdraw your will from the court either for changing the terms of your will or for cancellation of the same.

 

Probate:

 

Upon the event of your death the appointed executor or executors of your will need to apply to the Probate Registrar for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

 

The Grant of Probate/Representation is issued by the Probate Registry and gives the Executor or Administrator the authority to administer your estate according to the law and the terms of your will. Unless your lawyer is appointed as Executor, your nominated executor(s) will need professional advice and help from a lawyer in this regard.

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT:

   If you own a property here in TRNC, and a car and have money in TRNC bank accounts, you will definitely need a TRNC will. Wills made in other countries DO NOT protect properties here in TRNC and vice versa.

   Partners living like husband and wife in the TRNC do not have the same rights that partners have in the UK. They will not have any share in the estate of his/her partner. Therefore it is essential that a will is made to protect the interests of the surviving partner.

   The major change in the TRNC, from that of the law in the UK, is that there is no such rule of “Joint Tenancy” here which covers ‘intestacy’. In the TRNC, if one of you dies intestate, your spouse will not automatically inherit your estate, if there are surviving children. So if you jointly own a property here, your will be treated as holding the title as “Tenants in Common” which does not give the surviving partner the automatic right to inherit the other half of the property.

   Non-TRNC Citizens are free to dispose the whole of their movable and/or immoveable property by way of a will and any person who was born or whose father was born in the United Kingdom or any commonwealth country in other words all British Citizens, may dispose of the whole of their movable and/or immovable property by way of a will.

   The TRNC Government is not entitled to your estate if you do not make a Will. The Government is only entitled, by law, to an estate should there be no 'next of kin'. If there is no Will and the deceased has no surviving spouse or legitimate children or descendants of those children in the first level of heirs or no parents and brothers and sisters in the second level of heirs then the right of inheritance in varying percentages devolves down to the forth level of relatives. If there are no relatives up to the forth level then the estate goes to the state.

  

   Although a TRNC citizen deceased, leaving a spouse and children can leave up to only 1/3 of his estate to whomever they wish, but 2/3 of his/her estate must go to his/her spouse and children, British Citizens whether domiciled in the TRNC or not who were born in the UK and/or whose father was born in the U.K or in a Commonwealth county can dispose of the whole of his/her Estate by leaving a Will, to whomever they wish.However, other foreign nationals whether domiciled in the TRNC or not, can dispose of the whole of their movable property (i.e. money, shares, dividends, furniture, vehicles etc.) by making a Will to whomever they wish but can only dispose of their immovable property (i.e.land, house, buildings etc.) only in the proportion allowed according to the TRNC law as stated above.

Unlike in most European countries, the status of the common law wife/husband is not recognised in the TRNC, and no matter how many years couples have lived together, if they are not legally married, on either of their deaths, none of their estate is left to the surviving partner. And again if a child is born to parents who are not legally married and even if the father has registered the child in his name, still the illegitimate child is not entitled to inherit any property left from his/her unmarried father. Under these circumstances any couple not being legally married, and wanting to leave their property on their death to their surviving partner and/or to their children, should ensure that before their death they make a Will leaving their estate to whomever they wish.                                                                                                     

TYPICAL COSTS:

The cost of producing a will usually will depend on its complexity. It can be as little as £100/person. The Executor of a Will does not have to be a Solicitor, they can be a beneficiary but for practical purposes as stated above should be a TRNC Citizen.

Whether you have an Executor or not, Probate is usually best done by a Solicitor and is quite a procedure but need not be expensive. The state expenses for getting probate are up to 1200TL, there will be the Solicitors Fees on top of this. It will pay you to shop around as there is no fixed fee scale.

If using a Solicitor you are advised to agree some Probate/Executor fee structure when making the will. Probate/executor work on non complex Will could be £2,000 for a a simple Estate up to £100,000 value and 0.5-1% above that figure. There are some horror stories of unscrupulous Solicitors charging exorbitant fees so it's as well to get some limiting % scale in writing at the time of drawing up the will.

For details of making a will in the TRNC, visit the website of the BRS lawyer Peyman Erginel using the following link.

For a simple will that involves a husband and wife only you can print off the document attached here, complete and register the will at the Kaymakan office in Girne, next to the law courts.  The registration fee is approx 40tl. However it is not necessary to register a will but advisable in case of a lost or misplaced document.