Succession Law

Succession Law

Due to global mobility, the number of persons living outside their country of birth is ever on the rise. Several Maltese and Cypriots are now living all over the world, particularly in countries such as the USA, Australia, Canada and the UK. This creates a number of issues and disputes in respect of inheritances, estates and succession law in general.

Introduction of Succession Law in Malta

The estate of a deceased individual, referred to as a testator, is transferred by inheritance in three ways: either through the express disposition of the law in the form of a will, or through pre-determined modes of disposition by operation of the law where there is the absence of a will, or thirdly, through a trust.

Wills under Maltese Succession Law

Wills which come into effect upon the death of the testator may contain dispositions by virtue of title, where the testator bestows the whole of his property or a portion of it onto his heirs. Alternatively, dispositions may be made by singular title, whereby the testator bestows an individual asset onto specified persons known as legatees. In cases where the original heir or legatees are not able, or unwilling to accept the inheritance or legacy, the testator may also dispose of his property by substituting the person for the heir-institute or the legatee.

A Maltese will may also take several forms, however ordinary wills must be one of two kinds, either public wills which are received and published by a notary in the presence of two witnesses, or secret wills which may be written by the testator himself or a third party, and sealed and delivered to a notary public who draws up an act of delivery on the will itself or its envelop. Wills are subsequently delivered to the court of voluntary jurisdiction.

Intestate Succession under Maltese Succession Law

Intestate succession kicks in where the testator:

  • died without a valid will; or
  •  has not disposed of the whole of his estate; or
  • where the heirs are unwilling or unable to accept the inheritance; or
  • where the right of accretion among the co-heirs does not arise.

Intestate succession is a pre-determined mode of succession contemplated by the law which is based on the presumed proximity of the relationship between the deceased and his relatives. Devolution of the estate of the deceased will occur through the operation of the law in favour of the descendants, the spouse of the deceased, the ascendants, the collateral relatives, and, in absence of these persons, the Government of Malta.

Our seasoned Succession Law experts have written extensively about the topic of testate and intestate succession, and provide a very thorough overview of succession law in Malta.

Succession through Trusts in Malta

As per the Malta Trusts & Trustees Act, a trust may also be set up for succession purposes. Chetcuti Cauchi's dedicated team of Trusts Lawyers have in-depth expertise with the set up and administration of trusts through Claris Trustees, our firm's authorised trustee company.  Our main goal as trustees is to protect and invest our clients’ wealth on a long-term basis by providing them with an optimal structure to transfer their wealth from generation to generation.

Wills under Cyprus Succession Law

The main legislative instruments which regulate wills in Cyprus are the Wills and Succession Law (Cap 195) and the Administration of Estates Law (Cap 189). In order for these legislative instruments to apply, the deceased must be domiciled in Cyprus. Additionally, there is the Probates (Re-sealing) Law (Cap 219) which applies to cases where the deceased passed away in a Commonwealth country and at the time of the death held property in Cyprus. The part of these legislative instruments which deals with wills is modelled on English Law.

Individuals of 18 years of age who are sound of mind are considered to have the legal capacity to make a will. Wills are to be made in writing and there are minor technical formalities which need to be adhered to. Similarly to Maltese succession law, Cypriot succession law seeks to protect the family; it imposes a number of restrictions on the testator with regards to disposing his or her property. One may only freely dispose of a portion of his estate, what is referred to as the disposable portion, which changes depending on the living relatives of the testator.

Intestate Succession under Cyprus Succession Law

Intestacy in Cyprus is based on the Italian Civil Code and reflects continental law. In the case of individuals who die intestate, or who don’t appoint an executor in the will, the court will appoint an administrator. With respect to heirs under disability, the court will appoint a minimum of two administrators.

The role of the administrators will be to administer the estate in a way that is fully compliant with the law, pay the debts of the deceased and they will also be in charge of collecting and distribute the assets among the heirs. Administrators will account to the court.

Succession through Trusts in Cyprus

Cyprus Trusts Law has been revamped and modernised, and thus Cyprus trusts remain a very efficient vehicle for succession purposes, as well as for optimal estate planning.

Our Succession Law Practice

We provide assistance with:

  • receiving property in trust;
  • the payment of inheritance taxes due;
  • drafting of any necessary contracts;
  • representing your interests in Malta  or Cyprus(by power of attorney);
  • drafting of wills to regulate Maltese or Cypriot property;
  • receiving property under testate or intestate succession.

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Key Contacts

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner - Corporate, Trusts & Fintech

+356 22056422

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