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Inheritance Law in Greece

The law of succession is one of the most emotional areas of law in everyday life, as it makes us aware of the end of our existence. Death not only means the painful loss of a loved one, but also requires the clarification of property and other legal relationships. However, every country has its own laws, and so inheritance law in Greece also has to overcome one or two hurdles of bureaucracy.

Principles of Greek inheritance law

The following persons are seen as legal heirs in Greek inheritance law:

  • The spouse
  • The descendants
  • The other relatives
  • The state

In Switzerland and Germany, succession under inheritance law is usually regulated by a marriage and inheritance contract or joint will. Joint wills and inheritance contracts made abroad are declared ineffective by Greek courts and are rejected outright.

What are the wills in Greece?

In addition to the legal succession, it is of course also possible in Greece to appoint an heir in the form of a will. In order for the last will and testament to be enforced, it must be legally valid and contain the necessary formal requirements.

If you are a Swiss or German citizen and are buying a house in Greece, you should make sure that the will is legally valid.

If you are a Swiss or German citizen and buy a house in Greece, you should regulate the real estate and property in your will. The following types of wills are available to you under Greek inheritance law:

Handwritten will:

This should be written and dated in your own hand and can be deposited with a notary.

Public will: The testator makes his declaration orally before a notary and three witnesses. With the signature of the person making the disposition, the will becomes legally valid.

Secret will: The testator hands over a document to the notary and declares orally that this is his or her last will and testament.

Inheritance tax in Greece

In Greece, inheritance tax is levied and the tax liability concerns the entire acquisition. However, this is treated differently for non-residents, because here the Greek tax authorities only levy a statutory inheritance tax on Greek estate assets. As there is a double taxation agreement between Germany - Switzerland and Greece, inheritance taxes already paid in Germany - Switzerland are recognised and credited by the Greek tax authorities. This agreement ensures that you as an heir do not have to pay double tax on your inherited assets.

With regard to inheritance tax, the Greek tax authorities will take into account the inheritance tax already paid in Germany and Switzerland.

Inheritance tax in Greece is also subject to very specific requirements. For example, an inheritance tax return must be filed within 6 months of the inheritance. If the heirs live abroad, Greek inheritance law allows for an extension of another six months. In any case, it is advisable to consult an experienced tax advisor. Upon request, we can gladly recommend a competent contact person from our network.

Which law applies to international inheritances?

An inheritance case is considered international if the deceased person has cross-border assets. This applies in particular if the deceased has Swiss nationality in addition to Greek nationality. Which law is then applicable is entirely individual and is decided after a precise examination. In addition to different civil law, dual nationality is often difficult to deal with. Since 2015, however, the European Inheritance Law Regulation has been in force, which facilitates the clarification of cross-border relationships in the event of an inheritance. It is stipulated here that the applicable law of succession must be based on the last place of residence of the deceased. In order to avoid misunderstandings or subsequent trouble, an experienced lawyer for international inheritance law should be consulted in every cross-border inheritance case.