Turkish Inheritance Law
There are two types of heirs in Turkish Inheritance Law, legal and appointed. While appointed heirs are made heirs by the will of the inheritor, legal heirs become heirs according to the clan (degree) system.
Accordingly, the first degree legal heirs are the descendants of the legator, the second degree legal heirs are the parents (and siblings depending on these people), and the third degree heirs are the heirs depending on the grandparents. There is a “hidden share” among the legal heirs' shares, which will vary according to the degree. This reserved hidden share cannot be passed on to the appointed heirs, unless it is specifically determined by the prohibition of inheritance.
After a person dies, all his/her inheritance becomes an asset called "tereke". This estate is shared in proportion to the shares in the certificate of inheritance obtained from notaries (under certain conditions) or from the court. At this stage, you will need an expert inheritance lawyer.
As an inheritance law firm, we answer a few frequently asked questions on succesion in Turkey below.
Can foreigners be heirs in Turkey?
Yes. According to Turkish Law, being a citizen of a foreign country is not an obstacle to being an heir in Turkey. In such a case, all the heir has to do is to obtain a duly certificate of inheritance and request the inheritance according to the inheritance share in the document. To obtain this document, you may be expected to have a document or record showing your affiliation with the legator. A lawyer can also obtain this inheritance certificate from the Court on your behalf, without the need for you to come to Turkey.
If the person who left the inheritance in Turkey is a foreigner, which law is applied for the inheritance in Turkey?
According to the Turkish International Private and Civil Procedure Law, the law to be applied between the property of the heir varies according to the nature of the inheritance. While the law to be applied for movable properties is the law of the country of citizenship of the legator, Turkish Law is applied directly for all immovable properties of legator in Turkey. In this case, this immovable will pass to the heirs, either according to an existing will or, if there is no such, by dividing it according to stages as we have explained above. Please also check our article "Making Will in Turkey" about the will.
If the legator had dual citizenship and one of them was Turkish citizenship, does the applicable law change?
Yes. According to Turkish Law, even if a person who is a Turkish citizen is a dual citizen, he is considered a Turkish citizen and only Turkish Law is applied to his/her entire inheritance. While there may be exceptions to this situation (such as wills made in other countries where he is a citizen), we recommend that you seek the opinion of a lawyer as the situation will require special investigation on foreigns right of succession in Turkey.
According to inheritance law in Turkey, what is the inheritance share of the surviving spouse?
The spouse of the deceased becomes a partner in the inheritance with the heirs from each clan, regardless of the degree. Only the inheritance rates will vary. In this regard, we recommend that you consult us about your own specific issue, since the inheritance shares vary considerably depending on who you are the heir with.
Can you inherit from your divorced spouse?
If your divorce was finalized before the date of death, no, you can no longer be a legal heir. If the divorce case is continuing at the time of death, it is possible that you can become an heir depending on your fault in the divorce. We would like to emphasize that even if it makes you the appointed heir in the period before the divorce, there is a possibility that this situation may become invalid with the divorce.
If you are an heir from a country that cannot acquire real estate in Turkey, can you inherit the real estate?
If you are a citizen of a country other than the countries included in the list determined by the Council of Ministers in 2012, unfortunately, it is not possible to inherit immovables. However, in this case, you can have the income from the sale of the property. Please contact us for an updated list.
As a foreigner, do I have to pay inheritance tax in Turkey?
Yes, you have to. Inheritance tax is not a tax levied on a periodic basis, but is an incidental tax as a result of death or unrequited transfers. Every heir who accepts the inheritance must pay this tax within 3 years from the date of inheritance transfer.
To learn about tax rates and avoid paying double taxes, you can get consultancy service from our expert inheritance lawyers in Kula Law Firm. Please do not hesitate to contact us to get information about the process from our English speaking expert lawyer team at Kula Law Firm.