When it comes to inheritance in Greece, an important distinction must be made between those situations where there is a Will and those cases where there is not. In the latter case, the law provides that the property of the deceased is divided amongst the closest living relatives, while in the former case the deceased has already decided how his/her property will be divided after death. Nonetheless even when a Will exists, the closest relatives can still claim part of the property, if they were excluded from the Will in the first place, under certain conditions.
In both scenarios any real estate is not automatically acquired by the heirs, but an act of acceptance of inheritance must take place for the lawful heirs to become owners, even if they possess the property and declare it as their property to the competent tax authority. Until this act is finalized the lawful heirs cannot sell or otherwise dispose of the property.
An issue that we come across quite often regarding the non-real estate assets of a deceased’s estate relates to joint bank accounts. If the deceased while alive had not added another beneficiary to his/her bank account, then in order for the lawful heirs to receive the funds from the bank the road ahead is quite lengthy. On the contrary, if the spouse, or a child of the deceased or some other lawful heir had been included as a beneficiary of the account, then the funds can be retrieved without any further complication. Of course, any other lawful heirs can raise a claim against the beneficiary who retrieved the money in case they are also entitled to it, but this concerns their relationship with the other beneficiaries to the estate and not the one with the bank.
Right to Waive an Inheritance in Greece
One very crucial issue affecting matters of inheritance in Greece is the possibility that the temporary heir has, to waive his right to the legacy. Τhis is particularly important in cases where the deceased had debts on the day of his death which – just as with his assets - are included in his estate. The law provides for a specific timeframe during which the temporary heir can waive his right to the legacy to avoid the debts of the deceased.
It has happened that clients were not aware of the above right and ended up inheriting big debts of a deceased family member. Thus, it is important to consult a lawyer in case you are a lawful heir of a deceased which you suspect had a big amount of debts the day of his death.
Given that inheritance in Greece has its critical path at drafting a proper Will, a smooth legal process is expectable from any of our selected Inheritance lawyers in Greece.