By Anastasia C. Miliou, Court of Appeals Lawyer
Anyone with relatives in Greece will at some point be called to tie up loose ends when a loved one has died. Inheritance rights in Greece are separated into two categories: active and passive.
Active inheritance includes all real estate (houses, property, farmland), bank accounts and other credit products (bonds, shares, etc), vehicles, jewelry, artworks and home appliances.
Passive includes the deceased person’s debt accruals. If passive inheritance is exceeds active inheritance than the heirs have the right to disclaim their rights within four months following the death of the deceased or from the date of the publication of the will, if one exists.
For people who live abroad, the deadline for rejecting the inheritance is a year following the death of the deceased or from the publication of the will. If the person living abroad can prove the moment when they were informed of the death, then the annual deadline for forfeiting their rights begin from the moment of notification.
Acceptance of the inheritance can be done silently or with a legal document. If there is no rejection, it is deduced that there has been silent acceptance within four months.
Six months following the death of the deceased or the publication of the will, if there is one, the statement of taxes concerning the inheritance of the deceased need to be dealt with. Those who died abroad need to have their statement signed by TWO foreign residents and the deadline of the inheritance tax needs to be dealt with up to a year following the death or after the publication of the will.
In the inheritance statement, all the inheritance rights need to be included, that is, property, money from bank accounts, content of security boxes, cars, jewels, works of art, appliances etc.
The legal document has the jurisdiction to accept only the property included as part of the inheritance.
When there is no will, the heirs of the property, ie the closest relatives of the person who died, are the beneficiaries. This means, that the spouse and children are the next of kin. If the offspring of the deceased are no longer alive, then the heirs are the grandchildren if any. If there are no offspring but a spouse, then the spouse and the siblings of the deceased person are the next in line for the inheritance and so forth etc.
The will authorizes the heirs and specifies the portion of assets to be given. It also gives the deceased person the right to bestow inheritance to people who would otherwise not be entitled to it.
Legal acceptance of the inheritance needs to take place within a year. Heirs can independently file the acceptance of their portion.
With the acceptance of the inheritance, the heirs can acknowledge the assets that had not been claimed eg. if father A dies and leaves property in the village that belonged to father B that had not been accepted when father B died 40 years earlier. In such a case, the heirs would need to first legally accept the inheritance of father A on behalf of property owned by father B before continuing with the allocation of the inheritance.
The reason why inheritance needs to be legally dealt with is so that there is continuity and precision.
Anastasia C. Miliou is an Attorney at Law at the Court of Appeals with experience in international law and a large clientele in both Greece and abroad. Her telephone number is 6945028153. If you would like questions answered as part of her articles in English online Proto Thema, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.legalaction.gr