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Wills and Inheritances
Under Greek law, wills may be either handwritten or drafted before a Notary Public. If 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|
Children, parents and husband/wife cannot be excluded completely from their inheritance rights by virtue of a Will ("forced share" right holders), except in very specific circumstances (for example, if they threatened the life of the deceased).
When the inheritance includes real estate, then the beneficiary must formally "accept" the Estate through a Deed drafted and executed before a Public Notary. The same Deed must then be registered before the local Land Registry of the property's location under the name of the beneficiary.
The beneficiaries, (under intestacy or by virtue of a Will), must file an inheritance tax statement within 6 months if they live in Greece, or within 12 months if they live abroad. The deadline is determined from the date of death or, should there be a will, from the date of the probation of the Will.
For the assessment of inheritance tax, the beneficiaries are categorized 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 closer relatives, applies for each category. For example if a flat valued at $100,000 is inherited by the only child of the deceased and that child lives in Greece and does not have any other residence, the beneficiary is not obliged to pay any inheritance tax at all.
If the inheritance includes real estate and is inherited by more than one beneficiary, it can be 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 beneficiaries in proportion to their shares. Inheritance tax can be minimized through utilization of the provisions of inheritance law.
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 in Greece) and a copy of his/her valid U.S. passport or driver’s license or any other legal document with a photograph.
The handwritten 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 handwritten will may be removed by the testator in person at any time.
A public will is drafted in the presence of the Consular Officer responsible for powers of attorney and also of three adult Greek witnesses who are not related to the testator or to one another.
The witnesses must provide proof of Greek citizenship (Greek passport, Police Identity Card, Certificate of Municipal Registration from a Municipality or Community in Greece) and copy of their valid 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 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,|
|6.||any person who does not have sufficient knowledge of the Greek language, and
|7.||those who have an inability 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 testator’s time of death.
The secret handwritten ("Holographic") will is drawn up in two stages.
In 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.
In the second stage this document is submitted by the testator to the Consular Officer responsible for powers of attorney in the presence of three adult Greek witnesses who are not related to the testator or to one another.
The witnesses must provide proof of Greek citizenship (Greek passport, Police Identity Card, Certificate of Municipal Registration from a Municipality or Community in Greece) and a valid U.S. Passport or Driver’s license or any other legal document with a photograph.
A secret will may be more beneficial to the testator than a public will, in that the testator is certain that his/her last will will not become known to any third party, 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:
Two (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 testator dies in the U.S., this certificate is issued by the Consular Office upon submission of an official death certificate from the U.S.
Please contact the relevant Greek Consular Authority in the USA for further information.