Turkish inheritance law — basic principles

In today’s global and accessible world, more people travel, get married, conduct business, buy properties and also make their will internationally. In the past, a letter from overseas stating that a person has passed away and there is an inheritance matter to be resolved would rarely happen. In today’s world it has become more and more common to have an international inheritance matter. What does inheritance mean under Turkish law? Basically, inheritance is a legal process by which ownership of the assets/liabilities of a deceased person is transferred to that person’s inheritors. Inheritors might be family members, loved ones or even legal persons such as a charity. Under Turkish law, one without a legal capacity cannot become the direct subject of an inheritance, meaning one cannot make a will leaving all their assets to their cat. A person connected to the deceased is called the “inheritor.” In case a person is to receive part of an inheritance under a will, then this person is called a “beneficiary.”

How is inheritance certificate obtained?

When someone passes away the hospital prepares a report which serves as a death certificate. The report is automatically sent to the birth registration office and the death is registered in the records. Once the death is registered, the notary is able to automatically issue an inheritance certificate. The inheritance certificate issued by a notary is based on the documentation provided by the birth certificate office and can be challenged if there are any other claims about being an inheritor or beneficiary. When there is a dispute over the terms of a will or there is a dispute concerning the number and type of inheritors, a civil peace court — like a probate court — decides who the inheritors/beneficiaries are and how to distribute the assets. Once this matter is resolved and an uncontested certificate is obtained, the inheritors can then apply for a transfer of the assets left behind.

How is inheritance distributed?

Properties in Turkey are subjected to local laws and the distribution will be done according to the law. If a deceased did not make a valid will — I say valid will because a will is usually contested and if it is not made properly then it may be declared null and void — and there are no disputes, then the estate — what is left behind by the inheritors — can be distributed. Under Turkish law in line with the general rules of inheritance law, those closest to the deceased are the first to inherit. The spouse gets a quarter while three-quarters go to the child or children. If there are no children, half goes to the spouse and the remainder goes to parents, grandparents and grandchildren, then pro-rata other family members. If the asset is a sum of money then the distribution is easy and smooth. If there are real estate or movable items in the estate, the inheritors now have joint ownership. In any case, a distribution by the court is not a final, clean cut. I will write about liabilities and partition case and liabilities and how to get rid of them in the second part of this article. NOTE: Berk cektir is a Turkish lawyer and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living and doing business in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to b.cektir@todayszaman.com. If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise is expressly stated by the sender. DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN