A will or testament is a legal document that includes a person's wishes as to the division of their assets after their death. This main statute which provides about the above matter is chapter 195 Cyprus Succession Law and Wills.
Each person who owns assets in Cyprus, any movable and immovable property, and is interested in making a will based on the Cyprus law should refer to a lawyer for legal advice since the will has to meet certain criteria provided by local law, to be valid and possible to execute it in the future.
Any person with a sound mind over the age of 18 has the legal capacity to draw up a valid will.
He is able to dispose of all or part of the available share of his property (Articles 21 and 22 of the law).
In order for a will to be valid, it must be written and executed in a specific way (Article 23 of the law) and it should be clearly stated and understood by its content the true will of the testator.
Therefore, it is very important when making a will to make sure it complies with the above formalities. It is also advisable to draft the will as specifically as possible as the will of the person to grant a specific asset must be evidently clear.
If any of the above requirements of article 23 of Chapter 195 are not met, then the will is invalid and cannot be executed or survive based on witnesses who can orally confirm its validity.
Regarding the witnesses, by signing below the signature of the testator, they only confirm that he or she has signed in their presence and it is not necessary for the witnesses to be aware or understand any details of the content of the will.
The witnesses of a will have to be individuals of 18 years old and above and being sound of mind. Moreover, a witness cannot be a person who participates in the will as an heir or his/her spouse or child. If the above happens then he or she will not be entitled to receive his/her share. However, this fact does not affect the validity of the will as a whole.
The testator while drafting the will has the right to choose and include in his/her will the law that will be applicable for the execution of the will. If the testator does not choose the applicable law and also is not mentioned otherwise in the content of the will, then the applicable law is what is valid in relation to the will at the time of death of the testator. If the testator changes place of permanent residency, this fact does not affect the validity of the will.
The heirs, if they are aware that a will has been signed in Cyprus under duress, they have the right to file a case at the Court in order to cancel the execution of such will. Nevertheless, the heirs have to provide sufficient evidence at the Court indicating that the testator signed unwillingly or the will is forged.
It is essential for any individual interested in forming a will to be aware that the original draft of the will should be safely kept at all times. To enforce a will, the original is necessary to be presented at the Court.
A method to secure the original will is by registering it at the Court and if in such case the testator wants to withdraw it then he should address to the Registrar his/her request, and the will should be destroyed, in the presence of the testator.
Each person may lawfully allocate by a will to any person or organization the available portion of his/her inheritance, as explained in Article 41 of the law.
For example, when a person dies leaving:
For example, if a testator dies leaving a spouse and children, then they should receive equal shares.
If a person allocates by will more than his/her available portion based on the above requirements then the portion that will be allocated will be decreased in order to match the above criteria.
If a person dies leaving a spouse but no children, neither father nor mother, then the spouse is allowed to inherit if provided by the will, up to the total available assets of the deceased, which for example could be shares in a Company, bank account balances, property in Cyprus, cars and so on.
Beyond the establishment of the above requirements of Article 41, the forced heirship is applicable.
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