Turkish inheritance law is very complex and not particularly attractive for expats who own property in Turkey, so be careful of it and make a will!
If you’re planning on living in Turkey, or buying property in Turkey, you need to be aware of Turkish inheritance law.
With a view to eventually joining the European Union, the Turkish legal system has now been integrated with the continental European system incorporating elements from the Swiss, German, French and Italian codes, however expats living in Turkey do need to be aware of the differences in inheritance law, as do those who purchase immovable property in the country.
The main principle regarding property is that the property is regulated by the laws of the country in which it is located. This means that if you own property in Turkey, Turkish law is the applicable law when it comes to you shuffling off this mortal coil. And you might be a little surprised to learn that the laws of succession in Turkey differ significantly from our own in the UK.
If you die without having made a will and you are married, then your Turkish property will be split up along the following lines:- if the property was in joint names your spouse will retain 50% of the property. The first statutory heirs are any children of the deceased and they would receive the other half of the property. If there are no children, then the parents of the deceased and their offspring i.e. brothers and sisters of the deceased, would receive the estate.
İf the parents are deceased then the grandparents and their offspring are the statutory heirs.
So, if you and your spouse buy a property and put it in joint names, the best that can happen is that your spouse gets 50% of the house when you die. The other 50% could be divided multiple ways and force the sale of the property in which your poor bereaved partner was hoping to remain living. Not ideal really.
İf the spouse is included with the children in sharing an inheritance then they have a statutory share of 25%, if they are sharing with the parents that moves up to 50% and if they are sharing with the grandparents 75% of the estate will be theirs.
If the deceased has no surviving next of kin then the spouse receives everything and if there are no surviving heirs then the government gets to keep your property in Turkey.
So basically you need to draw up a will in the form specified by the Turkish Civil Code if you want to bequeath a property in Turkey, as a foreign will which does not comply with Turkish law may be invalid. In order to make a will in Turkey you need to be of sound mind and over 15 years of age, and wills disposing of property in Turkey can be made on an official form, handwritten or orally before a public notary or a Justice of the Peace. A holograph is then written in the testators’ handwriting and given to a court or public notary for safe keeping.
Be aware as well that if you have decided to give your Turkish property to your secretary or gardener and not your spouse before you die and the dispositions exceed the reserved portions in the Turkish Civil code, then it is likely that your dispositions will be reduced.
Children can inherit property in Turkey while both parents are alive, provided the parents are married and the parents or an appointed third party can then manage the property. As you can tell, the rules and laws are complex and favour the protection of the extended family. To that end we would say two things, firstly you have to have a will if you’re thinking about moving to Turkey or buying a Turkish property, and secondly as an expat or someone who holds assets in more than one country you need to make sure that your will covers all jurisdictions. İf you would like any further information on this you can contact us here at The Ege Ege or at the Free Citizens Advice Centre
**This article has been reproduced from an item that first appeared in ‘Voices’ and its accuracy has not been verified. You should always consult a professional