One thing many of us do not either think about at all, or at least don’t class as a priority when relocating to North Cyprus, is the making of a Will to ensure that any property and belongings will be passed on to our preferred beneficiaries in the event of our death.
You may be surprised to know that the majority of the expat community living in North Cyprus do not have a Will! Whether you are an expat resident permanently living in TRNC or you own a holiday home in Northern Cyprus and only visit a few times a year, it would be a very wise move to have a Will prepared. Even more so perhaps, when you learn that under Cyprus Laws British expatriate residents have complete freedom to dispose of their possessions as they wish, whereas Turkish Cypriot nationals and other foreigners do not. A legacy of the British Colonial rule!
Making a Will is very easy to do and ensures that all your belongings will be shared between the persons of your choice. Important to note here : if you die intestate (i.e. without leaving a Will) your spouse will not automatically inherit your estate if there are surviving children, in which case a surviving spouse will only receive a 1/6th share and the remaining 5/6th will go to any surviving children. If there are no children then a certain share will go to other specified relatives.
It is a common misconception that the State is automatically entitled to an estate if there is no Will. The State only becomes entitled to an estate or part of an estate should there be no “next of kin”. Given there are six degrees of kindred to be considered, it is usually viable that there will be living relatives to enable the estate to go to next of kin and not the State. The Sixth degree can include a Second cousin or Great Great uncle’s son, for example. If a person dies with no “next of kin” within the Sixth degree he shall be considered to have died without heirs, in which case his estate shall revert to the State, just as it would in fact go to the Crown in the UK under the same circumstances.
A Will prepared in the UK does not cover your estate here, so you will need to have a separate one prepared. A word of warning, only include the assets you have in North Cyprus and do not include the ones you have in the UK; they should be kept totally separate. A will for North Cyprus can be prepared in another country and then validated via the TRNC courts, however it is best to seek advice from a qualified professional on how to go about this.
You will need to make an appointment with a lawyer who will talk you through the process and about your estate to ascertain exactly what needs to be included within the Will, and who you wish your beneficiaries and executors to be. Normally a Will includes such things as property and any additional immovable property, real estate, leasehold rights, movable property, all rights for monies lodged in North Cyprus and all personal belongings. Obviously depending on your own personal circumstances, you may want to add certain items that are unique to you.
The wording is generally quite standard and not too dissimilar to that of a Will prepared in the UK these days, having been streamlined and less wordy and jargon orientated. It will be written in English as well so it will be easy for you to determine any alterations or additions that may need to be made. The lawyer will also talk you through the other requirements of being able to make a Will here in North Cyprus, such as being of sound mind and being over 18 for example.
You should then be able to return to the lawyers’ office within a few days to sign your Will and have two witnesses also sign it in your presence. The only other advisable thing to do thing to do is to lodge the documents with the Probate Registrar at the local court house (this is not legally required but is sensible practice) who will check all the documentation is correct and that you are the testator. You will usually be taken there by one of the lawyers’ staff who will already know the process so you don’t need to find your way around! Once all is satisfactory you will receive copies with an official receipt.
Upon the event of your death the appointed executor or executors of your Will then need to apply for a Grant of Probate or Administration, which will be issued by the Probate Registry. This will allow the executor to proceed with administering your estate. Obviously if the executor of your Will is not a lawyer then legal advice and help should be sought.
It is important to review your Will regularly to make sure it does not need amending. Name or address changes do not necessarily mean you need to make a new Will but you should keep evidence of such changes so that your Executors can produce any documentary proof required by the Court.
The cost of preparing a Will, including solicitors’ fee and the lodging of the documents in court do vary, and at the time of writing you can expect to pay anywhere in the region of £100-£180 per Will. Considering the cost, it’s a small price to pay for ensuring that things are catered for in this department.
So, our advice, get a Will and Testament for North Cyprus if you have an estate – it can save a lot of upset and unnecessary stress if one is done.
Additional information sourced via Naomi Mehmet & Parners.