Tricky Inheritance Problem

Legal questions answered by Cyprus property lawyer Louise Zambartas

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Joined: 24 Jul 2020 12:26

Tricky Inheritance Problem

Post by GrahamB »

Dear all,

I’m new to the site - I hope someone can help me.
I’m a UK resident. My sister (late 40’s) has just died in the last few weeks suddenly (for us) and tragically. A bit of background summarised in bullet points:
• She bought a house in Cyprus in 2001, she has title deeds.
• She made a will in Cyprus on purchasing the house
• She named me as sole beneficiary of the house in Cyprus
• I don’t know who was named executor.
• She was married in the uk to a UK citizen in 2008 - spouse is now next of kin and apart from not telling anyone (I’m a doctor) she was unwell (during lockdown) with a treatable illness which ultimately killed her ; he has become incommunicado with me and my mother - apart from the odd text message replies to questions (like when is the funeral). This includes excluding us from being present with the funeral directors to arrange the funeral.
• We don’t have my sisters Cyprus will but it’s existence is acknowledged by him.
• He is ‘claiming’ my sister did not make a UK will, this is not what we understand. He has asked a solicitor for letters of administration. I found this out after he asked her neighbours in Cyprus for an approximate value of the Cyprus house - they informed me.
• His brother-in-law is a uk lawyer and sister is a legal secretary.
• We don’t have access to my sisters property in UK.


So I need some advice. My sister was always insistent - right up to her death - that the house in Cyprus was going to me. She bought it with inheritance from my dad who also died young when we were in our 20s.
1) I think I can pay for a search for a UK will as most are registered. Can I search for a will in Cyprus?
2) If there is a will (in Cyprus) does that not exclude the ability to ask for ‘letters of administration’ in the uk?
3) Will the spouse have a claim on the house in Cyprus or is the claim on “HALF OF THE WHOLE ESTATE”. She had uk property (with a mortgage)
4) will my mum - surviving parent, or I - surviving sibling, have a statutory claim on the house in Cyprus?
5) In the absence of a UK will, will the whole estate (including uk property) be covered by the Cyprus will?
6) who can apply for probate in Cyprus? Just the executor? What if they’re non-Cypriot?
Posts: 3
Joined: 24 Jul 2020 12:26

Re: Tricky Inheritance Problem

Post by GrahamB »

PS - thank you for any help.

(I pressed submit when I wanted to preview)
Nigel Howarth
Site Admin
Posts: 2575
Joined: 24 Oct 2007 14:38
Location: Erimi, Limassol, Cyprus

Re: Tricky Inheritance Problem

Post by Nigel Howarth »

Dear Graham

My condolences on the loss of your sister.

Unfortunately, Louise rarely gets the time to visit the forum these days due to her workload. I suggest you contact her directly via her firm's website – L.G. Zambartas LLC Law Offices.

I can answer some of your questions:

I see she made a Will in Cyprus. One thing that is crucial is whether she changed it in 2015 when Cyprus adopted EU Regulation 650/2012 to state that she wanted her estate dealt with according to the country of her nationality.

If she didn't do this, her estate will be dealt with according to the inheritance laws of Cyprus.

Under Cypriot law, there is a system of forced heirship. E.g. If a person dies leaving a spouse and a child then ¾ of the estate passes to the spouse and child in equal shares and the testator (the person making the Will) has the freedom to dispose of the remaining quarter share as they wish. The Cypriot law will therefore overrule any claim you may have on your late sister's estate.

If your late sister's will didn't state that it only applied to her estate in Cyprus, it would apply for her estate in the UK as well.

Your late sister may have appointed your brother-in-law as executor, but applications to the courts for a grant of probate have to be submitted by a lawyer.

(It appears that the lawyer may be trying to charge the estate based on its value as there is no other reason I know of for wanting to know its value. This method of assessing fees for out-of-court work was axed 2 years ago – see Lawyers minimum fees in the bin.)

Nigel Howarth
Independent information & advice for Cyprus property buyers
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