Cyprus: The Wills And Succession Law, The Administration Of Estates Law, The Probates (Re-Sealing) Law And The Estate Duty Law

These laws are modelled on their English counterparts and they deal with the rights of persons as regards the disposition of their properties after death and the relevant procedures.

Cypriots cannot dispose by will of the whole of their estate if they have a spouse or children. The undisposable portion is one half of the estate if the deceased leaves a surviving spouse but no children and two thirds if he leaves children. British subjects, however, are exempt from this rule and they may dispose by will of the whole of their estate. The law applicable in all respects is the law of Cyprus.

As to wills made in Cyprus by other foreigners, the law applicable with regard to the formality of such wills is the law of Cyprus, i.e. wills should be in writing and attested by two competent witnesses and they should reflect clearly the free and true wishes of a sane and competent testator. With regard to the essence and legal effectiveness of these wills the law applicable is, for provisions referring to immovable property, the law of the country or countries where such immovable property is situated (lex rei citae) and for provisions referring to movable property, the country where the deceased was domiciled at the time of death (lex domicilii) which may not necessarily be the country of residence.

Wills may be deposited with the Probate Registrar of the District Court who issues a receipt to this effect, or may be entrusted for safe custody with lawyers.

It should be noted that upon the subsequent marriage or divorce of the testator his will should be renewed, as it will, in most cases, be automatically revoked. Testators should also seek legal advice if the executor or any beneficiary changes his name or dies or becomes incompetent to act, or if any property in the estate is subsequently sold or changes its nature, otherwise his wishes may not take effect.

It is advisable that an executor or executors be appointed in the will to carry out the wishes of the testator.

Foreigners may set up a trust by will and bequeath the whole of their estate to appointed trustees to hold the same in trust for the benefit of certain beneficiaries and to manage and dispose of it in accordance with the instructions of the testator.

If a person dies intestate or does not appoint an executor in his will, the court will appoint an administrator of his estate. If there are heirs under disability the court will appoint at least two administrators.

The administrator administers the estate according to the law, pays the debts of the deceased, collects and distributes the assets amongst the heirs and accounts to the Court. The surviving spouse inherits in equal shares with the children.

The Probates (Re-Sealing) Law makes special provisions for persons who die in the United Kingdom leaving a will there and who, at the time of their death, also had property in Cyprus. According to this law, the will of such persons may be re-sealed in Cyprus and an administrator may be appointed by the Court to administer their estate in Cyprus. The intended administrator should accompany his relevant application to the Court for a grant of probate with certified copies of the UK probate and will and a power of attorney from the UK executor/s of the will and upon completion of the administration he should file with the court final accounts of his administration, accompanied by a declaration of the UK executor/s that the administration in Cyprus was carried out to their satisfaction.

The estate duty (inheritance tax) is calculated on the assessed net market value of the estate at the time of the death, as follows:


    Net Market Value in CY£                         Estate duty

Value from                   Value to

-                              20.000                        0%

20.001                         25.000                       10%

25.001                         35.000                       13%

35.001                         55.000                       15%

55.001                         80.000                       17%

80.001                        105.000                       20%

105.001                       150.000                       23%

150.001                          over                       30%

There is an exemption of CY£75.000 for the surviving spouse, CY£150.000 for each child under 21 and CY£75.000 for each child over 21 years old. Moreover, if the estate includes a house used by the deceased as his residence, then the value of such house up to CYœ150.000 is also exempted.

It is to be noted that property donated by the deceased within three years prior to his death is considered as "property passing on the death of the deceased" and the net value thereof is added to the estate of the deceased for inheritance tax purposes. Property donated by declaration of trust is also considered as property passing on death and it is also taxed if the declaration of trust took place within 3 years prior to the death of the deceased.

In cases of re-sealings, if the deceased was domiciled in Cyprus at the time of his death, then the value of the whole of his estate, both in Cyprus and abroad, is taken into account in assessing the estate duty. Any inheritance tax paid in the U.K. will be deducted by operation of the Double Taxation Treaty between Cyprus and the U.K.

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