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IPC Claims Northern Cyprus

Immoveable Property Commission: Northern Cyprus compensation claims, December 2019 deadline

In 2005 the government in the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC) passed legislation which created the Immovable Property Compensation Commission (IPC), an organisation which seeks to provide a just and effective remedy to the property claims of Greek Cypriots who lost control of their properties due to the Turkish military intervention in 1974.

For further information about to find out who is eligible to claim, see the full article here: Lost Property in Northern Cyprus – The Immoveable Property Commission.

According to the Immoveable Property Commission, as of 14 December 2018, 6,503 applications have been lodged with the IPC Commission and, so far 928 claims have been concluded resulting in compensation of £296,547,921 to date.

Initially, the Immovable Property Commission was intended to operate from the date of the legislation until 21 December 2009. This was subsequently extended to December 2015, later a further extension until December 2017 was granted and the current deadline is now December 2019.

Given the track record, there is a chance that this deadline may be extended again, however, this is not guaranteed. Many legitimate claimants may have since passed away, and therefore in order for the legal heirs to the Northern Cyprus property to make an IPC claim, it may be necessary to obtain probate in Cyprus beforehand. Probate in Cyprus can be a lengthy and convoluted process, and so it is advisable to seek legal expert advice on this as soon as possible, to ensure that the necessary process is handled in a timely manner to avoid missing the IPC deadline of 21 December 2019.

How do I make a claim to the IPC?

Contact Worldwide Lawyers today on 01244 470339 or at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk.

Worldwide Lawyers can put you in touch with a lawyer in Northern Cyprus (TRNC) who has experience assisting Greek Cypriots and their families with claims to the Immoveable Property Compensation Commission for compensation. If Probate is required, you will need to speak with a Cypriot lawyer in the Republic of Cyrus who can assist with this. Worldwide Lawyers will be happy to recommend a suitable Cypriot inheritance and Probate lawyer to assist with this aspect.

We can provide you with further information about making an application to the Immoveable Property Compensation Commission and obtain a no-obligation quotation from an experienced lawyer in Northern Cyprus to assist you with all aspects of your IPC claim.


Italian family certificate

What is a Family Certificate in Italy?

When dealing with inheritance matters in Italy, you may be requested by the Italian authorities to produce a document called Certificato di stato di Famiglia (Family Certificate).

This document is extracted from official public registers held at Italian Councils (Comune) certifying your family relationship with the deceased or other family members. It contains information regarding members of a family and states the personal details of all the people living in each family specifying family, marriage, affinity or adoption relationships.

However, while it is simple enough to obtain a family certificate as an Italian resident, by submitting an application to the Council (Comune) of last residence of the deceased, it can be problematic if the deceased or his family are not habitually resident in Italy.

Instead, if the deceased and/or the beneficiaries, are resident in a jurisdiction which does not have the equivalent document of a certificato di stato di famiglia it is possible to apply for autodichiarazione (self-declaration). This is a declaration which any person can provide regarding his/her personal and family status.

The signature of an autocertificazione does not necessarily have to signed in front of any particular professional and does not require any certification or authentication by any professional of organisation. It is advisable however to seek guidance from an Italian lawyer who has experience in dealing with Italian inheritance matters for non-Italian residents with regard to this as well as the other aspects of inheriting assets from Italy.

If you need assistance with obtaining a certificato di stato di familia or autodichiarazione or with any aspects of dealing with an inheritance in Italy, Worldwide Lawyers can put you in touch with an Italian lawyer who specialises in Italian inheritance. Contact our friendly team on 01244 470 339 or info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk


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 Inheriting an Italian estate 

Affidavit of foreign law


Italy flag

Inheriting an Italian estate 

If you are dealing with the inheritance of Italian assets, it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you are not an Italian citizen yourself. You will probably have a number of questions about how to deal with the Italian estate such as: How do you obtain Italian probate? What inheritance laws apply to the Italian estate? Is there inheritance tax to pay in Italy? And many more!

The answers may vary depend on the individual situation: where the deceased was domiciled, whether they were resident in Italy; whether there is a valid will; what the value of the estate is, for instance.

In order to deal with the Italian estate, the executors or beneficiaries will need to obtain the Italian equivalent of a Grant of Probate. An Italian Grant of Probate is called Dichiarazione di Successione also known as a Statement of Succession, Declaration of Succession or Italian Certificate of Inheritance.

Unless you are fluent in Italian and familiar with the probate process in Italy, you will need to instruct an Italian inheritance and probate lawyer to  guide you through the Italian inheritance process. Worldwide Lawyers can assist you in dealing with inheritance of assets in Italy. Please feel free to contact us for a no-obligation quote.

We have, however, set out some of the main steps to successfully administering an Italian estate:

Obtain the death certificate

In order to obtain probate in Italy a copy of the death certificate is an essential requirement, so you should get a copy of the death certificate as soon as possible, to avoid delaying the process.

If the deceased died in Italy in order to obtain the death certificate, you will need to provide copies of the deceased’s (and applicant’s) personal ID and tax code. The death certificate will be issued by the Registry of Vital Records (Ufficio Anagrafe e Stato Civile) in the municipality where the deceased passed away. The death certificate will need to be translated and notarised to obtain a Grant of Probate, or equivalent, in the deceased’s home country (see more on obtaining the Grant of Probate below).

If the deceased died in another country (ie not in Italy), in order to deal with the assets in Italy your Italian lawyer will require the original death certificate and original Grant of Probate (or equivalent), both of which must have the Apostille of The Hague affixed at the Foreign & Commonwealth office. A translation will also be required.

Establish whether the deceased had a valid will and which laws apply to the estate

It is important to ascertain whether the deceased has a valid will and in which country the will was written, as this will affect the process of obtaining probate. You can find out from the General Will Registry Bureau (Registro Generale dei Testamenti), based in Rome, whether the deceased had an Italian will or not. If the deceased had other assets worldwide you should also check whether they had a will in the other countries where their assets are based. Some countries have a central wills registry but many, like the UK, do not.

You will probably find that one of the following scenarios applies:

  • The deceased has Italian assets and they have a will based in their home country (not Italy)
  • The deceased has Italian assets and there is only an Italian will
  • The deceased has Italian assets and there is both an Italian will and another will(s) to cover assets in the respective country/countries
  • The deceased has Italian assets and no will

If the deceased only had a will in their home country it is usually necessary to apply for the Grant of Probate (or equivalent) in that country first. Once the Grant of Probate from the deceased’s home country is obtained and the relevant inheritance taxes are settled (if there are any owed) you can then deal with the assets in Italy.

It is common for people who own Italian assets to make a separate Italian will, in order to make it easier for their executors and beneficiaries to deal with the inheritance of the Italian estate and other worldwide assets. If this is the case, the Italian will ordinarily cover just the Italian assets, which means that the probate process can be dealt with simultaneously in each country.

It also simplifies the process when an Italian lawyer is dealing with Italian assets and a UK lawyer, for instance, is handling the UK assets as it leaves less room for conflict between different national laws. If there is any ambiguity or conflict between the beneficiaries, you should seek specialist advice.

Once it has been ascertained which will applies to the succession of the Italian estate, your Italian lawyer can then deal with the Italian estate accordingly as per the Italian will and other will(s). In order to act on behalf of the heirs to the estate, your lawyer in Italy will usually require all the beneficiaries to sign a power of attorney – a document that can be signed before a notary – giving them the authority them to act on their behalf.

Which laws will apply to the succession of the Italian estate?

The default position in Italy is that the applicable law will be the law of the country where the deceased was ‘habitually resident’ i.e. had their main home. This position can be altered if the deceased made an election in their will that the laws of their country of their nationality should apply instead.

Italian inheritance law is subject to forced heirship which means that, if Italian law is the applicable law, certain family members are entitled to inherit particular portions of the deceased’s estate – regardless of what their will says!

If the deceased dies intestate (without leaving a will) the Grant of Letters of Administration (or equivalent) will be required and the Italian succession will be dealt with in accordance with the intestacy rules of the country where the deceased was habitually resident.

Gather all relevant documentation 

The following documentation may be required to obtain the Statement of Succession or Dichiarazione di Successione, depending on your personal circumstances:

  • Title deeds of any properties (buildings and land) owned by the deceased
  • Family certificate (or equivalent)
  • Affidavit of foreign law (this may be required to prove the validity of the will)

As part of the probate process of you will also need to provide a detailed list of the all of the assets the deceased owned – including other properties, bank accounts, shares, pensions etc. – and their values, including the Italian estate and any other assets owned in other countries.

Submit the Dichiarazione di Successione 

The final step in the inheritance process in Italy, in order for the Italian assets to be released to the beneficiaries is to obtain Italian Grant of Probate, the Dichiarazione di Successione. The Dichiarazione di Successione is a form, which can be obtained from the Italian Ministry of Finance.

This Statement of Succession must be completed and submitted to the appropriate Italian Tax authority (Agenzia delle Entrate) listing all of the deceased’s worldwide assets, within one year of the date of death, regardless of whether any inheritance tax is owed.

Once any inheritance taxes owed have been settled the Italian assets can then be released to the beneficiaries.

Accepting or renouncing inheritance in Italy

Under Italian inheritance law, the beneficiaries step into the place of the deceased, which means not only are they entitled to their share of the Italian assets but they are also liable for any debts. Therefore, if the debts exceed the value of the assets, the heirs may choose to waive their inheritance. If a beneficiary chooses to disclaim their Italian inheritance, they must officially renounce their claim in front of a Notary Public.

The Italian inheritance and succession system is notoriously complex, so if you’re dealing with the inheritance of Italian assets is strongly advisable that you seek specialist legal advice, especially if it is a cross-border estate. Contact Worldwide Lawyers for FREE no obligation advice or contact details for a recommended Italian lawyer on 01244 470339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk.

German inheritance

Obtaining probate in Germany

The equivalent of a Grant of Probate in Germany is called a Certificate of Inheritance (Erbschein) or Certificate of Executorship (Testaments-vollstreckerzeugnis), both of which are issued by the German probate court (Nachlassgericht).  It is necessary to have either a Certificate of Inheritance or a Certificate of Executorship in order to access the assets of an estate located in Germany.

In Germany the principle of ‘universal succession’ applies, meaning that upon the death of a person their heirs automatically become the owners of both the deceased’s assets and debts. However, the beneficiaries must prove their entitlement by a Certificate of Inheritance. Ordinarily, there is no such thing as an executor or trustee of an estate in Germany, unless the testator has stated in their will that their estate should be administered by an executor (this is usually in the case where the deceased has a foreign will i.e. not a German will). In this instance, a Certificate of Executorship is necessary.

Certificate of Inheritance

In order for the court to issue a Certificate of Inheritance at least one of the heirs must apply for the certificate by giving an affidavit/declaration in lieu of oath. This application can be filed with the Nachlassgericht directly, providing there are heirs in Germany, using a German notary public (Notar) or via the German Missions abroad. Ordinarily one applicant applies on behalf of all the beneficiaries. A power of attorney is not required for them to apply on behalf of the other heirs.

Along with the application the claimant must also file the following supporting documents:

  • Original or court certified copy of the will
  • Original or court certified copy of the grant of probate
  • Original or notarised copy of death certificate
  • Original or notarised copy of the passport of deceased and the applicant

In the case of intestacy, certificates proving the family relationship (e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate, divorce judgement) are required.

Some courts may demand that the documents are court certified or substantiated by a Hague Apostille Certificate. In addition, if the judge is not fluent in the language used in the supporting documents, they may request that the documents are translated and verified.

Which court is applied to depends on the last residence of the deceased. If the deceased was not resident in Germany, it is determined by the location of assets of the estate or the applicant can file for the certificate with the probate court in Berlin-Schöneberg.

Certificate of Executorship

In the case where a will names an executor, a Certificate of Executorship (Testaments-vollstreckerzeugnis), must be obtained. A Certificate of Executorship identifies the legitimate executor and gives them the right to administer the estate and dispose of/distributed assets in accordance with any limitations outlined in the certificate.

If the German estate includes property, a German Certificate of Inheritance is still required, in order for the executor to transfer the property in the name of the heir(s).

Renouncing a German inheritance

As debts as well as assets are inherited by the heirs of an estate in Germany, German law allows beneficiaries to waive their rights to an inheritance. In order to disclaim an inheritance in Germany, the beneficiary must submit a Declaration of Renouncement of Succession to the Nachlassgericht within six weeks of being informed of the inheritance. If the beneficiary is not resident in Germany, they have six months to submit the declaration.

Find out more about renouncing an overseas inheritance here: Waiving a foreign inheritance.

If you’re unable to make the declaration of renouncement in person in Germany, it is possible to submit the form with a certification of your signature. It is recommended that you also you enclose copies of all documents proving the right to inherit (i.e. last will, letters testamentary, death certificates, birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.)

Inheritance Tax in Germany

The beneficiaries must file a notice of inheritance with the relevant German Tax authority within 3 months.

In Germany, inheritance tax is paid separately by each beneficiary. The amount of German inheritance tax payable differs depending on the value of the inheritance received by the beneficiary and their relationship to the deceased. The tax rates are between 7 per cent and 50 per cent.

If neither the deceased nor the beneficiary are tax resident in Germany, German inheritance tax will only be due in respect of immoveable property located in Germany (ie houses, apartments etc). No German inheritance tax will be payable by a beneficiary in relation to a bank account, for example, where neither the deceased or beneficiary were tax resident in Germany.

Where the beneficiary is tax resident, there are tax free allowances available if they are a spouse or descendent of the deceased. The value of these allowances vary depending on the beneficiaries relationship to the deceased and the age of the beneficiary.

Legal costs

German lawyers’ fees are in accordance with a set statutory scale of fees in respect of representation in court proceedings. The fees are dependant on the value of the assets in Germany, therefore the higher the value of the assets, the higher the fees. There is a minimum fee but not maximum fee. Contact us today for a quote on 01244 470339.

If you require assistance with a German inheritance matter, please contact us on 01244 470339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk and our friendly team will be happy to help. 


Buying property in Spain after Brexit

What is a reservation contract and do I need one when buying property in Spain?  

When you put an offer in on a property in Spain and the seller accepts your offer it is common to be asked to sign a reservation contract (Contrato de Reserva) and pay a reservation fee to secure the property. This process may seem unusual to UK buyers as it is not a customary practice in the UK, however it is often a common part of the buying process in Spain.

Here’s everything you need to know about reservation contracts and reservation fees in Spain.

Why should I seek legal advice before signing a reservation contract in Spain? 

It’s crucial that you seek independent legal advice before signing a reservation contract and/or paying a reservation fee to ensure that you are adequately protected. Instructing an independent Spanish lawyer who is not linked to the estate agent, developer or seller will help ensure that your lawyer is solely acting in your best interests to protect your position and your investment.

We strongly advise that you do not sign a reservation contract until:

  • a valuation of the property has been carried out, if necessary
  • you have secured a formal mortgage offer (if you require a Spanish mortgage)
  • the basic property background checks have carried by your Spanish property lawyer

Are reservations contracts in Spain obligatory?

Reservation contracts are customary when buying property in Spain, however they are not mandatory. Estate agents are often keen for buyers to sign a reservation contracts and pay reservation fees as it signifies a firm commitment to the property purchase. You are not obliged to sign a reservation contract though (although some estate agents might suggest you have to) and should not be pressured into doing so.

Are there any benefits to signing a reservation contract in Spain?

Signing a reservation contract with regards to a Spanish property purchase, ordinarily ensures that the property is not actively marketed for an agreed period (usually up to 30 days) which gives your Spanish lawyer time to run all the necessary background checks to ensure there are no issues regarding planning, land registry, debts attached to the property etc.

However, you should be aware that if the property is being marketed by more than one agent it may not be removed from all marketing platforms. It’s worth asking the question before you sign anything!

The reservation contract also outlines the agreed sale price, which means the seller cannot ask for a greater sum once both parties have signed the contract.

If you choose not to sign a reservation contract, the seller can decide to keep the property on the market and may receive a higher offer for the property. So, you need to weigh up the pros and cons carefully. If there is a lot of interest in a property and you’re keen to secure it, a reservation contract can be a good way to ensure you don’t lose out on your dream property in Spain.

Are the terms of the reservation contract fixed? 

In Spain it’s commonplace for estate agents to request that you sign their own reservation contract. However, the reservation contracts drawn up by Spanish estate agents are usually quite vague and focus on protecting the seller, so they offer very little protection to the buyer. The terms of Spanish reservation contracts are negotiable though, which is something your Spanish lawyer can assist with.

How much are reservation fees?

Typically, reservation deposits in Spain are usually between €3,000 and €6,000. Usually, you’ll be expected to pay a lower fee for a low-value property and a higher fee for high-value properties (although this is not always the case). However, you can negotiate the amount of the reservation deposit. The reservation deposit is usually deductible from the agreed purchase price – but don’t assume this, double check and make sure that the agreement is detailed in the reservation contract!  

Are reservation fees refundable?

A Spanish reservation fee is usually non-refundable as the purpose of a reservation fee is to make a buyer commit to the property purchase. So, unless there is a valid legal reason for you to withdraw from the property purchase you will not be able to claim the money back. Therefore, you need to be certain that you want to proceed with the property purchase at this stage and ensure that the full funds for the property purchase are secured. If there are any agreed conditions, make sure that your lawyer sets these out in the reservation contract before you sign it.

In exceptional circumstances, where there is a legitimate legal problem relating to the Spanish property purchase, the reservation deposit may be refunded. However, this will be dependent on what was agreed in the reservation contract, which is why it is wise to ensure you get guidance from an independent Spanish before you sign it.

Can I buy the property if I don’t sign a reservation contract? 

It’s possible to completely bypass the reservation contract step when buying a property in Spain and move straight to signing a purchase contract, providing all the necessary checks have been made and your Spanish lawyer is satisfied that there are no risks regarding the property purchase.

Being prepared and contacting an independent Spanish property lawyer before you go on any viewing trips can be helpful, so that they can advise from the outset.

For more information about buying a property in Spain or for assistance from one of our recommended Spanish lawyers and a no-obligation quote, give us a call on 01244 470 339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk

You can also download our FREE Buying Property in Spain guide.