What happens if someone dies in Greece without leaving a will (intestate)?
Someone is said to be intestate when that person has died without leaving a will. Intestate inheritance provisions apply in Greece. Such provisions are applicable where:
- The deceased has not composed a will.
- The deceased has composed a will but that will has been deemed null and void.
- The deceased has composed a valid will which caters only for a certain part of the inheritance – the remaining part is dealt out subject to the intestate inheritance provisions.
- Articles 1813 to 1824 of the Greek Civil Code (GCC) provide information on the inheritors of the inheritance of a person who has died intestate.
- The first class of inheritors is the descendants of the deceased. Τhe closest descendant excludes a more remote descendant of the same bloodline. Children inherit in equal parts. The surviving spouse belongs to this class and his/her portion is ¼ of the estate.
- The second class consists of the deceased’s parents, siblings and also the children and grandchildren of siblings who have predeceased the deceased.
- The third class consists of the grandparents of the deceased and the children and grandchildren of their descendants,. If, during the induction of inheritors to the will, the grandparents of both bloodlines are alive, then they are the only ones who are bequeathed an inheritance; this is done in equal parts. On the other hand, if the grandparents from both blood lines are not alive, then their children and grandchildren receive the inheritance.
- The fourth class of inheritors consists of the great grandparents of the deceased. If alive during their induction in the will, these inheritors inherit in equal parts irrespective of whether they belong to the same or different blood lines.
- If no relatives of the four classes exist, then the spouse which survives the deceased is called to act as the intestate inheritor of the entire inheritance. Finally, where no relatives or a spouse can be found, the state is called to act as the intestate inheritor.
Forced Inheritance share in Greece
Volonakis Law Firm , attorneys-Partnering international businesses in Greece
Minimum forced inheritance share in Greece (“Nomimi Mira”)
In stark contrast to what applies in other countries like the United States, in Greece the minimum forced inheritance share (“nomimi mira”) limits a testator’s right to dispose of his estate freely.
The underlying aim of the minimum forced inheritance share is the safeguarding of the testator’s close relatives and spouse.
What is a minimum forced inheritance share?
Pursuant to Articles 1825 to 1845 of the Greek Civil Code 1825 (CC), a testator is prohibited from excluding from his will his children, spouse and parents. A part of the testator’s estate must be distributed to the above relatives. The minimum forced inheritance share must be equivalent to half of the inheritance share that each individual family member would be legally entitled to, had the testator died intestate (i.e. without leaving a will). However, the minimum forced inheritance share is reduced accordingly where any contributions that the testator may have granted to each of the above heirs while living, are found.
When does minimum forced inheritance share apply?
The law relating to the minimum forced inheritance share applies in the following circumstances:
- Testate – where the relatives would have inherited, had the testator died intestate, and do not inherit by virtue of the will or inherit less than the minimum forced inheritance share and
- Intestate – where the existing inheritance is insufficient to cover the minimum forced inheritance share due to conveyances the deceased made while living or because of restrictions that have been set by virtue of a will.
- Can the testator disinherit his relative(s)?
- A testator can disinherit a relative when the latter has committed a seriously unjust act against the former or/and has lived his life unethically. A spouse may be disinherited if a valid reason for divorce exists for which the spouse was liable.
- If a testator disinherits a relative by will or bequeaths to a relative less than is provided by the minimum forced inheritance share, the relative has the right to claim (1) the percentage missing in order to complete his share or (2) the entire minimum forced inheritance share if he has been disinherited completely.
- In addition, if the testator’s inheritance at the time of his death is not enough to cover the minimum forced inheritance share, an inheritor is entitled to pursue the revocation and/or rescission of any gifts that may have been granted by the testator in life so as to claim his minimum forced inheritance share from those gifts.
What happens if inheritance share is refused?
In conclusion, certain legal consequences arise if the minimum forced inheritance share is not bequeathed in the event of a will. The will is effectively nullified and deemed void as far as the minimum forced inheritance share is concerned.
Wills in Greece & their publication
Partnering international businesses in Greece-Wills in Greece & their Publication
Article 1710 of the Greek Civil Code (GCC) provides for the disposition of an inheritance by will. There are three distinctive types of wills in Greece. Each type of will has unique characteristics.
In this article we shall discuss the particular traits of each type of will and offer a brief explanation as to how each of these wills is published. A will may be (1) self-written (2) public or (3) secret.
A self-written will is a will that has been written, dated and signed by the testator himself GCC Article 1721. Such a will may be composed on any other material and by any other writing instrument besides a pen or paper i.e. it may be composed by mouth if the testator is disabled, on the bark of a tree, on animal skin, on a wall or by blood etc. 2nd Volume, 3rd edition Interpretation of the GCC pg.2192. Whoever is in possession of a self-written will is under a duty, upon being notified of the testator’s death, to immediately publish it in the First Instance Court of either the last residence of the testator or his own GCC Article 1774. If the person who is in possession of the will resides abroad, he may present the will for publication at the Head of the Consular Office Ibid. Article 1775; the former and the latter, in turn sign a document confirming that the will has been delivered to the latter.
A public will is drawn by a testator’s statement of his last act in the presence of a notary public and three witnesses or in the presence of two notaries and one witness Ibid. Article 1724. A public will must contain the following information
Ibid. Article 1732:
- the date and location of its creation
- the testator’s personal details which verify his identity
- the names and addresses of the notary public(s) and the names, addresses and professional details of those who were present during the will’s signing
- a declaration of the testator’s final act and a statement confirming that the obligations under Article 1730 AK have been adhered to
- A notary public in possession of a public will is under a duty, upon being notified of the testator’s death, to send a copy of the will to the secretary of the competent First Instance Court responsible for the area in which the notary public residesIbid. Article 1769. The public will is published in the first meeting of the court Ibid. Article 1769.
- A secret will is a document that a testator delivers to a notary public in which the former orally states to the latter that this document contains his last act; three witnesses or two notaries and one witness must be present when the testator orally conveys this information Ibid. Article 1738. Such a will consists of two separate documents: one is private , including the testator’s last act, and the other is public, composed by the notary public upon receiving the former document.
- A notary public in possession of a will is under a duty, upon discovering of the testator’s death, to personally deliver the original copy to a public meeting of a Court of First Instance. The secret will is published during the meeting Ibid. Article 1769.
- Article 1770 GCC stipulates that prior to breaking the seals of a secret will, such a will is examined by the court in the presence of the notary public; the seals are verified as being intact. Whoever has a legitimate interest may examine the seals and be heard on the issue of whether they are intact.
-  GCC Article 1721
-  2nd Volume, 3rd edition Interpretation of the GCC pg.2192
-  GCC Article 1774
-  Ibid. Article 1775
-  Ibid. Article 1724
-  Ibid. Article 1732
-  Ibid. Article 1769
-  Ibid. Article 1769
-  Ibid. Article 1738
-  Ibid. Article 1769