Expats in Cyprus urged to make UK as well as Cypriot wills

Published:  6 Sep at 6 PM
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Making a will is one task likely to be overlooked, as the disposal of assets after your demise it’s not a pleasant thought.

However unappealing the thought of making a will may be, it’s a necessity if there are assets to distribute after your death. For expats living in Cyprus, it’s even more important, as Brexit may change many legal rules covering wills and inheritances.

Although the status quo for expats won’t change until the moment when the UK finally leaves the EU, the present situation in which UK expats on Cyprus may have their last wishes administrated under UK law will almost certainly no longer apply. The only answer is to make two wills, one relevant to Cypriot law and covering holding in the island and the other covering UK holdings under UK law.

At the present time, wills regulated by Cypriot law can be written in either English or Greek, a convenience in theory but prone to hassles in practice if you’re not a British citizen. For example, if your home country is the Netherlands, your Greek language will would need to be officially translated to Dutch, whereas if you have a Dutch will as well as a Cypriot document, this will make life much easier for your executor.

Another point to consider is whether to use a Cypriot lawyer as your executor. Charges for this service are high, comprising 5 per cent of your estate and extra percentages for probate. As using a Cypriot lawyer as your executor isn’t compulsory, you can choose anyone who’s willing and save a chunk of money to be passed on to your family, charities or wherever you wish
For those UK citizens who’ve lived in Cyprus for more than 15 years and are disenfranchised as a result, the subject of inheritance tax is inflammatory, to say the least. It’s not yet known whether post-Brexit negotiations will change your legal obligations as regards this unpopular tax. If you’d wanted to vote Remain and were not allowed to do so in spite of Cameron’s empty promises, inheritance tax liability is likely to become a contentious issue, as indeed it should.

Even taking into account the above, it’s important to take legal advice before writing your two wills. Professional advice can easily avoid unpleasant conflicts arising from unclear instructions after your death.
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