Key information you need regarding inheritance in Greece
Our law firm, John P. Alavanos and partners, routinely handles all of the inheritance issues for more than 40 years. Our clients are both Greek and foreign citizens and we provide them skilled protection and efficient solutions on any matters related to inheritance and we personally represent them, if necessary.
Depending on the type of inheritance, the procedures are multipart and frequently complicated. Apart of the Greek Civil Code, Art. 1710 -2035 there are complex additional provisions enforceable - laws, decrees, administrative circulars, tax regulations. The experienced lawyers’ assistance in the inheritance procedures might be crucial and we work closely with our clients, providing them any support and representation before the authorities.
In cases where the Greek law governs the Foreign citizens should require an experienced lawyer at both, consultancy and procedures’ stages when the decedent at the time of decease had a Greek or a dual citizenship (Greek and foreign citizenship) or, if he hadn’t a Greek citizenship but his residence was in Greece.
Inheritance and tax matters regarding real estate in Greece are governed by the lex rei sitae, i.e. by the Greek law even if the decedent was not a Greek citizen and even if the will was made under foreign law.
Key issues are the distribution of the inheritance of the decedent’s property and who has the right to benefit.
Depending on where the residence of the deceased was, Greek or foreign law may apply. Which law applies is critical to what the client may inherit.
According to the Greek law, a person is entitled to share his property after his decease in two ways:
in a will,
without a will, in which case the inheritance is considered to be in intestacy and shared according to the law.
In the first way, the testator distributes his property as per his free will, with the only restriction of a minimum protection provided by the law (forced share rights – ‘nomimi moira’) to family members (children, spouse, parents). If any of those relatives was omitted by the testator or was given a smaller share than the minimum regulated by the law, he can contest the will and claim his inheritance rights.
Under Greek law the will can be either: holographic, public or secret.
The holographic (‘idiogarfi’) will must be handwritten by the testator, dated and signed, without any corrections.
The public (‘dimosia’) will is made by the testator before a public notary in the presence of three witnesses.
The secret (‘mistiki’) will is handwritten or typed, signed by the testator. The secret will, in a sealed envelope is handed to a public notary or a lawyer in the presence of three witnesses and the later is obliged to keep it until the testator’s decease.
Wills may be cancelled or modified at any time, and a new will automatically cancels a previous one.
Should the will is not clearly expressed and creates uncertainties or it is incomplete or with omissions, the court may interpret the presumed will of the testator using addition information and evidence.
Distribution of the inheritance
If the deceased has not left a will, he is considered to be in intestacy and his property will be shared among the next of kin, according to the provisions of the law as follows:
The surviving children and spouse have the right to inherit the deceased. The spouse is entitled to ¼ of the inheritance and the remaining ¾ are shared by the children in equal parts. In case that one of the children is not alive, then this share is given to his child, if exists (grandchild of the deceased).
When there are no children/grandchildren their inheritance share goes to the parents, brothers and spouse of the deceased. The spouse is entitled to ½ of the heritage while parents and brothers of the deceased distribute the remaining ½ share.
When surviving are only grandparents and spouse, the spouse is entitled to ½ of the heritage while grandfather/ grandmother share the remaining ½.
When there is no other relative but only the spouse, then the souse inherits all the property.
When there is no other relative and no spouse, then the State inherits the entire property of the deceased.
Inheritance rights and taxation in Greece
There is no specific deadline for the inheritors to accept the property. The law stipulates only deadline for a renouncement of the right to a property of 4 months at the court registry of heritage from the moment the inheritor became aware of his hereditary rights. This deadline is of 1 year if either the deceased, or the inheritor had his domicile abroad. The deadline is determined from the date of decease or should there is a will, from the date of its probation.
After the expiry of the above deadline, it is considered that the inheritor has accepted the property and has acquired all rights and obligations deriving therefore.
When the inheritance includes real estate, the inheritors have to formally “accept” the estate through a Deed before a public notary which must then be registered with the local Greek Cadastre (Land Registry).
The inheritors (by virtue of a will or under intestacy) must submit an inheritance tax declaration within 6 months if they live in Greece, or within 12 months if their domicile is abroad. The deadline is from the date of the death or in case of a will, from the date of probation of the will.
The inheritance tax scale and any tax exemptions depend on the taxable value of the real estate and the inheritors’ degree of kinship with the deceased.
Our lawyers can provide you any additional detailed information, guidance and assistance on each specific case and on all inheritance matters. Besides, our close cooperation with tax consultants, public notaries and real estate agents:
Will ensure you the most favorable tax handling.
Will release you from time-consuming procedures with public services in Greece and abroad.
Will guarantee that all aspects of the will be routinely handled without the need for future modifications and rearrangements, so you do not suffer any unnecessary expenses, travel costs or inconvenience for any reason.
Our team’s guiding principle is always to protect the interests and to minimize the expenses of our clients. We study all details and depending on the case we provide personalized consultations on inheritance and ownership issues, such as: life donation, parental benefit, transfer of property and bare ownership, granting right to use the property (usufruct).
We are sensitive to the needs of our clients and we keep them continuously informed and updated on any inheritance matter. We ensure that the heritage is handled in the best possible way by qualified associates not only in Greece but abroad as well.