Inheritance is the belongings of a decedent to be distributed to inheritors. An inheritance can be money, property or even debt. An heir may accept or decline an inheritance. Turkey has a modern and well-civilized inheritance law. The spouse and children are the natural heirs of a decedent. If there are no spouse or children alive, then the properties are distributed to, respectively: parents, siblings, grandparents and their grandchildren.
A Turkish Citizen’s Inheritance
If a Turkish citizen dies, the hospitals send “death declaration” automatically to related government offices like the civil registry offices, title deed registry and the courthouse. The inheritors can simply go to the court (or to the notary) and ask for the “Certificate of Inheritance”. This certificate contains all inheritor’s rights like spouse and children on the movable and immovable properties. According to this certificate, all belongings of the decedent will be shared after the inheritance tax is paid.
A Foreigner’s Inheritance in Turkey
When a foreign property owner dies, the inheritance system works almost the same as Turkish citizens in Turkey. The only difference is that inheritors must bring the “Certificate of Inheritance” and official “Family Registration Document” from their country. At this point, there are different regulations for The Hague Convention party countries and non-party countries.
• If your country is a member of The Hague Convention, you can simply bring apostilled “Certificate of Inheritance” and “Family Registration” documents. These documents are accepted as having the same legal validity as the Turkish ones.
• If your country is not a member of The Hague Convention, your home country’s reciprocity agreement is checked at the Turkish Foreign Ministry. If there is a reciprocity agreement between the Turkish State and your home country, the documents are approved to be used in Turkish courts. If there is not any reciprocity agreement between the countries, you need to open a court case to get a “Certificate of Inheritance”. This court will determine if the “declaration of death” is valid and will find out the exact heirs for “Certification of Inheritance” after legal communication with your home country.
Inheritance Default Share Ratio in Turkey
According to the civil law in Turkey, if a person dies and there is not any valid will supplied, below share ratios are applied;
• If there are an alive spouse and children after the decedent’s death, ¼ goes to the spouse, and ¾ is shared equally between the children.
• If the decedent has no children, ½ goes to the spouse, and ½ is shared between the decedent’s parents and siblings.
• If the decedent has no children and parents, ¾ goes to the spouse, and ¼ is shared between the decedent’s grandparents and their children (uncle, aunt).
• If the decedent has no relative other than the surviving spouse, all real estate is assigned to the spouse.
Property Inheritance Process in Turkey
If someone inherits property in Turkey, they need to register it at the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre. Turkish citizens do not need to deliver the documents as it has been automatically monitored. In order to start the process, foreigners need to deliver the “Certificate of Inheritance” and “Family Registration” documents. One of the heirs would apply on behalf of other heirs. After you pay the inheritance tax, it will be registered under your name in 2 days’ time.
The Will in Turkey
A will (testament) is a statement that explains people’s wish to whom to leave their inheritance after their death.
In Turkey, as in most of the countries in the world, people can leave a will to be applied after their death. If the testator is a foreigner and wants to leave a will for his/her property in Turkey, the will must be written according to Turkish Inheritance Law. Otherwise, the will can be counted informal by the courts. It is suggested that foreigners ask for a lawyer support when they want to leave a will in Turkey.
A will can be changed, canceled, or written again. The last version is valid if the will is changed before the testator’s death.
There are three types of will in Turkey. These are;
A formal will is written by the officers at the notary office in Turkey.
A handwritten will is written with the testator’s handwriting, the exact date has to be mentioned on it and the testator’s signature must be placed on it.
Parol will be used under extraordinary circumstances like war or disease. The testator tells his/her will to two witnesses and asks them to write it.
Q: Who can leave a will in Turkey?
A: Any person at and over the age of 15 can leave a will in Turkey.
Q: What happens to my property in Turkey if I die?
A: Your heirs inherit all your belongings with a Certificate of Inheritance.
Q: Can I still sell my property if I already made a will to leave it to my son?
A: Yes. The property is still yours and you can decide whatever you want to do with it until your death.
Q: Which type of will is the most preferable?
A: Formal will is more preferable since it is recorded at notaries. The judge searches the notaries for any possible will after a person’s death. If there is one, the notary informs the court.
Q: How can I leave a testament in Turkey?
A: You may leave a testament, easily to a lawyer or at the notary.
Q: Is there an inheritance tax in Turkey?
A: Yes. The amount is determined by the value of the inherited.
Q: Can I refuse the inheritance?
A: Yes. You can refuse the inheritance whether it’s real estate, money, an object or even a dept.