Lawyer in Turkey: Inheritance Issues

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inheritance Issues

A couple buys a picturesque holiday home in the beautiful region of Kaş. They decorate the place lovingly and spend many happy times together there. The man dies after a few years and leaves the woman, Mrs A., the house in his will, no other heirs are mentioned in the will. They were not married. The testator also possesses, apart from this house, a rental property and a car in The Netherlands. A modest amount of cash in the bank will largely be used for the funeral arrangement.

The man had three children from a previous marriage, according to the will they needed to be disbursed. After heated discussions and lengthy correspondence, the children finally agree on an amount that was negotiated by the solicitors of both parties.
Mrs A. also pays a reasonably high rate of inheritance tax to the Dutch government for the house in Turkey. All in all she spends around 45,000 Euro.

Mrs A. would now like to transfer the deeds of the house in her own name, or preferably in her children's' names. She is told at the TAPU office that this will not be straightforward based on the documents obtained in The Netherlands. She is referred to a solicitor.

Mrs A. finds out that even in possession of the testament and a declaration of succession rights, she will need to take several steps in order to transfer the deeds.

It will not be an easy feat as Turkish inheritance regulations are strict. Turkish inheritance law does not accept heirship by testament in all circumstances. Mrs A. consults me and we decide to try and use International Private Law to obtain acceptance of her status as the only heir.

You will understand that the Supreme Court needed to assess this case. The Supreme Court rules Mrs A. is right. However in the meantime the children - without her consent and without respecting their father's wishes - have used their legal heirship, helped by a different solicitor, to wrongfully claim possession of the house. The children had presented their birth certificates to another Turkish court and had so obtained a Turkish declaration of heirship. They did not mention however, the existence of an heir by testament: Mrs A.

The Turkish court cannot verify the existence of a different testament abroad.
It seems obvious that Mrs A. will now need to proceed with more legal actions - on top of the existing one - to obtain a transfer of the deeds in her name.

The costs of all these proceedings, added up to the payments already made to the children, are in excess of the property value. Mrs A. realises this. I advise her to start a reclamation procedure in The Netherlands, rather than continue prolonged and expensive court proceedings in Turkey. She will be able to tell her story and book successes sooner than in Turkey, the transfer by the TAPU in the children's name will be enough evidence to start the reclamation procedure in the Netherlands, based on the testament.

Whether you are in a civil partnership or not, it is sensible to contact a lawyer while both partners are still alive if you are unmarried and have possessions in Turkey, to avoid problems with the Turkish inheritance law. All this to ensure that justice is done, also after one of the partners is deceased.

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