Wills under Greek law can be either handwritten or drafted before a Public Notary. In case that a Will is not found, the law regulates the inheritance succession under intestacy as follows:
1. Husband / wife and children
2. Husband / wife, parents and brothers / sisters
3. Husband / wife, grandparents, their children and grandchildren
4. Husband / wife and great-grandparents
5. Husband / wife
6. The State
Children, parents and husband / wife cannot be excluded completely from their inheritance rights by virtue of a Will ("forced share" right holders), except for very specific reasons (for example in case they have caused life threat to the deceased).
When the inheritance includes real estate, then the heir must formally "accept" the Estate through a Deed drafted and executed before a Public Notary. Same Deed must be then registered before the local Land Registry of the property's location under the name of the heir.
The heirs, (under intestacy or by virtue of a Will), must file an inheritance tax statement within 6 months, if they live in Greece or 12 months, if they live abroad. The time limit for this statement begins as of the death; should there be a will, as of the date of the will's probation.
For the assessment of the inheritance tax, the heirs are enlisted in categories according to the relation that connects them with the deceased. For each category a different progressive tax scale applies, rising from 5% up to 40%. Also a tax free amount, which is higher for the closest relatives, applies for each category. For example if a flat of $100,000 value is inherited by the only child of the deceased that lives in Greece and does not have any other residence, the heir is not obliged to any inheritance tax at all.
If the inheritance includes real estate and is inherited by more heirs (society of heirs) it can be either divided among them as it is, or, if that is not possible, it can be sold upon a court's judgment. The proceeds of the sale will be distributed between the heirs in proportion to their shares. Following the appropriate tactic and utilizing some facilities that the law provides (such as parental gifts withholding the life estate right), inheritance tax can be minimized or even avoided.
Drafting a will at the Consular Office
For a legally binding Will to be drafted and signed before the authorized Consular Officer, the Testator must be of sound mind and of age (over 18 years old) and provide Proof of his /her Greek Citizenship (Greek passport, Police Identity Card, Certificate of Municipal Registration from a Municipality or Community in Greece) and copy of his/her Current U.S. Passport or Driver’s license or any other legal document with a photograph.
The hand written will is drafted entirely by the testator, without any added or visible corrections. It is dated and signed by him/her. In this way, the authenticity of the will is proven and the content expresses with certainty the free will of the testator. It may be deposited with the Consular Office. At the same point in time, the Consular Officer responsible for powers of attorney issues a certificate to that effect according to the relevant provisions of the law. The hand written will may be removed by the testator in person, at any time.
The public will is drafted in the presence of the Consular Officer responsible for powers of attorney and also of three Greek adult witnesses who are not related to the testator or to one another.
The witnesses must provide Proof of his /her Greek Citizenship (Greek passport, Police Identity Card, Certificate of Municipal Registration from a Municipality or Community in Greece) and copy of his/her Current U.S. Passport or Driver’s license or any other legal document with a photograph.
The following persons cannot sign as witnesses:
(1) the spouse of the testator,
(2) a relative at least up to the third degree either by blood or through marriage,
(3) any person who is honored in the will,
(4) any person who is blind or deaf,
(5) any minor,
(6) any person who does not have sufficient knowledge of the Greek language,
and (7) those who have an incapacity either to understand or to be aware of the content of the will or are deprived of the use of reason.
As long as the testator is alive, the content of the will may not be made known to anyone and no copies of the will may be issued. The public will is enacted at the time of death of the testator.
The secret hand written ("Holographic") will is drawn up in two stages.
At the first stage, it is drawn up by the testator and contains his/her last will. It may be written by a third party or typed.
At the second stage this document is submitted by the testator to the Consular Officer responsible for powers of attorney in the presence of three Greek adult witnesses who are not related to the testator or to one another.
The witnesses must provide proof of his /her Greek Citizenship (Greek passport, Police Identity Card, Certificate of Municipal Registration from a Municipality or Community in Greece) and copy of his/her Current U.S. Passport or Driver’s license or any other legal document with a photograph.
The secret will may be more beneficial to the testator than the public will in that the testator is certain that his/her last will did not become known to any third person, because it is not read at the time of its submission to the Consular Officer in charge. If the testator has no knowledge of the Greek language, an interpreter is required.
Wills of any kind must go through the Greek Courts after the Testator's death. This means that before they can be executed, they need to be probated.
For the execution of a Will, you must provide:
-2 witnesses not related to you, or to one another. The witnesses must be Greek and shall provide a passport, or a Greek identification card.
Proof of death of the Testator is needed before the Will is made public.
If the person dies in Greece, a death certificate from Greece is needed ("Lixiarhiki Praxi Thanatou").
If the person dies in Japan, this certificate is issued by the Consular Office upon submission of an official death certificate from the Japanese authorities.
Should you have any further questions regarding the above or for any clarification you may contact an agent of the Consular Office via telephone at +81(0)3 3403-0871/2, via fax at +81(0)3 3402 4642 or via e-mal at the following address: