Courtesy of Doc Martin © Doc Martin 2017
Disclaimer: The information here is provided as a general guide. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate, information given here from the Turkish Government, DGMM, GOC, British Consulate & other official websites may be subject to change at any time.
Inheritance Law in Turkey
Beware Turkish Inheritance Law when you are buying property in Turkey.
Use the information below for reference, but please see a lawyer.
Turkish inheritance law is very complex and not particularly attractive for expats who own property in Turkey, so be careful of it and make a will.
There is only one course of action to take if you are still unclear after reading the information below and that is to speak to a turkish lawyer.
If the estate of the deceased includes immovable property in Turkey, then Turkish Law is applied, whereas movable assets are subject to the deceased´s national law.
Once a Turkish institution of any kind becomes aware of the death of a person registered as an asset holder with them, that asset is frozen and placed under the guardianship of the state.
In the matter of immovable property, the Land Registry will make a note on the title documents (Tapu) indicating that the asset owner has passed away and transfer of that asset can then only take place with permission from the court.
In the case of financial assets, banks will take the same approach and block the use or transfer of assets until a court authorises their release.
Where a deceased person is a joint account holder, the jointly held assets will be blocked proportionately. (i.e. 50% in the case of two names on the account, 33% in the case of three names on the account and so on). This is true even if only one signature is required to operate the account.
You need to appoint a solicitor and provide the requested documents from the foreign country (if the death was abroad) and your solicitor will obtain an inheritance certificate from the court and alter the tapu accordingly. This takes 7 weeks approximately, then you can sell your property.
If your partner or parents dies and leave a property or money in Turkey, you must obtain an inheritance certificate.
The certificate of inheritance provides confirmation of the persons entitled to inherit and is needed in order to dispose of the assets making up the deceased’s estate according to the will or by law.
Financial institutions will demand a certificate of inheritance before money can be withdrawn from the deceased’s accounts. A certificate of inheritance is also required when the deceased’s real estate is transferred or sold.
Click here for a precis of Inheritance (Wills Probate Inheritance - Turkish Law)
To guarantee your Turkish will is legal in Turkey, it is highly recommended that any Will be made in a notary office and notarized. The notarized wills are kept by the notary’s office and the authorities are informed by the notary, so the rights of the testators are protected by the official authorities.
If you are planning on living in Turkey, or buying property in Turkey, you need to be aware of Turkish inheritance law.
The main principle regarding property is that the property is regulated by the laws of the country in which it is located.
This means that if you own property in Turkey, Turkish law is the applicable law when it comes to you shuffling off this mortal coil.
And the laws of succession in Turkey differ significantly from our own in the UK.
Property and money left by the deceased are divided among close relatives as stated in the Civil Code.
Persons with such rights of inheritance are called heirs (mirasçı).
The reserved portion which does not go to the surviving husband or wife is allocated as follows:
- The reserved portion and legal inheritance right of children is 75 percent of the legal portion
- If the deceased has no children, the reserved portion of the inheritance for the father and mother is 50 percent
- If the parents are deceased the reserved portion for siblings is 25 percent
- Legal heirs in Turkey are:
- The first heirs of a deceased person: the children and the wife/husband
- If the deceased has no children, the deceased’s parents are the heirs
- If the deceased’s parents are not alive, the deceased’s siblings
- The last of a deceased person’s heirs among his or her close relatives are the grandparents and their children
- A testator may ban the legal heirs from acquiring their inheritance in exceptional circumstances, for example if a serious crime was committed. However, the testator must prove the reasons for this ban to the court. The banned heir cannot sue the testator.
If the spouse of the deceased is not named on the Tapu and there are no children on the deceased side the surviving spouse is awarded 50% of the property.
If the spouse is included with the children in sharing an inheritance then they have a statutory share of 25%, if they are sharing with the parents that moves up to 50% and if they are sharing with the grandparents 75% of the estate will be theirs. If the deceased has no surviving next of kin then the spouse receives everything and if there are no surviving heirs then the government gets to keep your property in Turkey.
An example (with a valid will) if bought with both names on the Tapu, when one person dies his 50% would be shared by the survivor and three children, so spouse now owns 62.5% and the children 12.5% each.
For a person who has not been married, then their next in ancestral line (ie parents/brothers, sister/cousins etc) will inherit 25% then 75% can be divided up to whoever you want.
So basically you decide to draw up a will in the form specified by the Turkish Civil Code if you want to bequeath a property in Turkey.
A foreign (non Turkish) will which does not comply with Turkish law may be invalid.
In order to make a will in Turkey you need to be of sound mind, over 15 years of age and wills disposing of property in Turkey can be made on an official form, handwritten or orally before a public notary or a Justice of the Peace. A holograph is then written in the testators’ handwriting and given to a court or public notary for safe keeping.
To remove your spouse/partner’s name from your Tapu you need to submit a notarised copy of the Will to your local Tapu/ deed office, along with a notarised translation of the death certificate and letter from the Judge.
As you can tell, the rules and laws are complex and favour the protection of the extended family.
To that end we would say two things, firstly you have to have a Turkish will if you are thinking about moving to Turkey and buying a Turkish property, and secondly as an expat or someone who holds assets in more than one country you need to make sure that your will covers all jurisdictions.
Law of Succession Where the Subject is a Foreigner
Article 43 of the Law of International Private Law and Procedure (IPLP – The Law No. 5718 titled 'International Private Law and Procedure' was adopted on 27 November 2007, and provides that lawsuits of foreigners concerning succession should be resolved by the Court in the last place of domicile of the deceased. However, Article 54/1b provides limitation in regards to immovable goods. If you are a foreigner and you own immovable goods, which is likely to be property then the succession laws of Turkey apply.
Under Turkish Law one cannot directly exclude a spouse, child or grandchild from a share of a property.
However, it is your legal right to exclude these persons from your will if you choose to.
And after your death, as long as there is no petition against your will, then your wishes will be upheld.
If however, the excluded spouse or family member chooses to petition your will, then it will be decided in the Turkish court and likely be changed according to Turkish Law.
The spouse gets a quarter while three-quarters go to the child or children. If the deceased had no children then half will instead go to the spouse, the remainder will go to parents, grandparents and grandchildren or on a pro-rata basis to other family members.
Children born outside marriage, share the same rights as children born within a marriage.
Step-children, foster children and some adopted children may not be recognised as children of an asset holder under the Turkish inheritance formula.
Joint Property But Not Married
Unmarried couples are at danger of being left with nothing in the unfortunate event of death of the other partner.
The inheritance laws of Turkey adopt the parental rule which in effect could mean that the family of the partner who is name the property is registered in will have a claim to the whole property.
The hierarchy of inheritance from the deceased side is
- Grand parents
If you are in this kind of arrangement then it is highly recommended that both partners, whether the property is in their name or not have a legally binding will.
In the absence of a will, you could be at risk to losing your hard earned home to your partners family. Therefore, we really do not think it is worth the risk.
Creating a will will give you peace of mind and it is a fairly straightforward process. A will needs to be created in the presence of two adult witnesses, and then formalised by a notary.
NOTE: Whilst we may not yet be seeing a nationwide change where a foreign will, apostilled, translated and noterised is accepted by all Turkish judges the article below shows that some Turkish Court judges ‘may’ be taking a European stance.
No more is known except what the guy on a Turkish forum states, so you need to make your own enquiries with a Turkish lawyer.
My wife died recently and the house etc was in her name. I have seen an International lawyer in Marmaris and because we are both foreigners and she left a will leaving everything to me which was apostilled in the UK. When it goes to court here in Turkey it will be judged under British Law and not Turkish Law.
I can confirm that my case went to a court case in Turkey to be judged under UK law rather than Turkish Law and the judge ruled that only my name should be on the Tapu. The new Tapu is now awaiting my collection when I return to Turkey at the end of this month, all paperwork completed.
Turkish Inheritance Law
If a foreign national who owns real estate in Turkey dies, his or her successors must have recourse to the Turkish courts and obtain a certificate of inheritance in order to complete the transfer of the real estate under their names before the land registry or be able to legally dispose of the property in any manner.
Click here for Succession in Turkey (English version) in Full and Legal Jargon.
When someone dies owning property in Turkey, the beneficiaries need to obtain a beneficiary certificate in Turkey which will allow them to change the ownership of the property or assets in Turkey out of the name of the deceased and into the names of the beneficiaries.
In order to obtain this certificate, the beneficiaries to the Turkish estate will need to apply to a local court in Turkey.
The court will need to establish that they are the people entitled to inherit the Turkish estate before issuing the certificate.
This may be done by presenting legalised copies of documentation to the Turkish court such as birth, marriage and death certificates and providing sworn declarations (affidavits) that there are not other people who are more entitled to the Turkish assets.
The easiest way to obtain a beneficiary certificate is to instruct a Turkish lawyer who has experience in assisting clients with estate administrations and inheritance of assets in Turkey.
The Turkish lawyer will be able to:
- Guide you through the process
- Make the application to the Turkish court
- Obtain all the necessary documentation to prove who is entitled to benefit from the Turkish estate
- Arrange for the transfer of the assets and property title into the name of the beneficiaries.
From a Turkish lawyer April 2021
Succession of Inherited PropertyAuthority (Court, Notarial or Other)
1. An order of succession is the specific document that officially designates the heirs of the deceased. This document is used to execute the heir’s rights before title registries, banks etc. Application for the order of succession is submitted within one month following the death by the heirs.
2. The heirs or their attorney must apply to the Civil Court of Peace for the distribution of the estate. The required documents for such application are as follows:
- A petition addressed to the Civil Court of Peace
- A family birth record (received from the related Population Registration Office)
The Inheritance Tax Act outlines the taxation procedures for a local deceased/heir and a non-resident or non-domiciled deceased.
Accordingly, a local deceased/heir will be taxed in compliance with the provisions of Inheritance Tax Act.
However, a non-resident or non-domiciled deceased/heir will not be subject to inheritance tax.
In addition to this, where a person is not actually domiciled in Turkey but has been resident for a substantial period of time, they may be deemed to be domiciled in Turkey for inheritance tax purposes only.
It may be a difficult time at the tax office during paying inheritance tax on behalf of a deceased person as the tax office and municipality request deceased passport copies and some send them off to the home office after the death of their relatives without keeping a copy.
It is important to keep a copy of the deceased passport and tax number for the inheritance matters.
Click here for details regarding Bare Ownership.
An alternative to Inheritance procedure for a property.
Another alternative, posted by a lawyer in Sept 2021.
It is possible to gift your property to a partner, spouse or third party for free.
This can take time and does require all parties to be present, those listed as owners on the Tapu (or their POAs) as well the the person to be gifted the home.
You first have to inform the Land Registry Office of your intentions to give away full rights to your property to another party. You will then need to pay the legal fees involved, normally 7% of property value as registered at the Land Registry office (N.B: the figure the TAPU office will give you as to the properties worth in Turkish Lira is often far below the figure it is worth on the open market).
You will then need to supply all the normal documents required for selling a property, the TAPU, Passport and Translation, Declaration, 2 x Passport Photos and your tax number.