The rules of intestacy apply if there is no valid will and to any part of the estate not disposed of by will. No distinction is made between movable and immovable property.
The person entitled to succeed to the estate of a deceased person are divided into four classes:
Distribution takes place after the deduction of the share of the surviving spouse (see below). The heirs of each class generally succeed equally. However, in the first and second classes the succession is per stirpes. This means that the heirs of the deceased inherit equally and the descendants of each heir inherit their parent’s share. In the third and fourth classes the succession is per capita. This means that all the heirs of those classes inherit equally. The persons of one class exclude persons of a subsequent class.
The estate of an individual who dies leaving no spouse and no relative within the sixth degree of kindred becomes property of the Republic of Cyprus.
The share of the net value of the estate (that is, after the debts and liabilities of the estate have been discharged) allocated to the surviving spouse varies according to the number and nature of other relatives surviving the deceased, as follows:
When more than one lawful wife survives the deceased, the share given to the wife is divided equally between the wives.
Property that the surviving spouse has received from the deceased under a marriage contract is not taken into account in calculating the surviving spouse’s entitlement.
It is not possible for beneficiaries to challenge the adequacy of their provision under the intestacy rules.
Under Cyprus law, like in many other legal systems, part of the deceased person’s net estate (statutory portion) must be reserved for close relatives who are alive at the time of the deceased person’s death. Close relatives are the deceased person's:
Where the testator purports to dispose by will of a part of this estate in excess of the disposable portion, such disposable portion, such disposition shall be reduced and abated proportionally so as to be limited to the disposable portion.
The reduction and abatement provided for shall not apply where the testator disposes of up to the whole of his estate to his surviving spouse, provided that the leaves a spouse but no children or descendants of a child, or father or mother.
The statutory portion is paid in accordance with the intestacy rules to in paragraph 1 above.
It is easy to avoid the forced heirship provisions. Individuals who enter Cyprus to take up permanent residence can establish a Cyprus International Trust under the International Trusts Law before becoming resident in Cyprus. If a Cyprus International Trust is not an option (for example, because the individual is a permanent resident of Cyprus) a local trust should provide a way around the forced heirship provisions, although without a Cyprus International Trust’s tax benefits.
Every person who is of sound mind, memory and understanding and who has completed the age of 18 may make a valid will thereby disposing of the whole or any part of the disposable portion of his estate.
A will must be writing and must be executed in the following manner:
Strict adherence to the formalities mentioned above is mandatory and must be complied with rigidly otherwise the will shall be rendered void.
The Estate Duty (Amending) Law of 2000 abolished any form of succession tax in respect of deaths taking place on or after 1 January 2000.
This information was compiled by George Liasides LLC.