Generally speaking, an English or Commonwealth obtained Grant can be resealed in Cyprus, and there is no need to apply for a fresh Grant in Cyprus.
Grants of Probate or in forced heirship Countries (such as Notarial acts) obtained in Countries (generally speaking) which are not members of the Commonwealth will require a fresh Grant to be obtained in Cyprus and the below documentation will still be required.
The Documents Needed
To proceed with the resealing of the letters of executorship or grant of probate in Cyprus, the following documents shall be required:
(1) A true copy of the death certificate of the deceased. Two (2) original copies (the green coloured version) are recommended.
(2) The original or true copy of the Grant of probate or letters of executorship granted to the executor.
(3) True copy of the Will (this will be part of the sealed and certified copy of the English Grant if the original Grant was obtained in England & Wales.
Please note that provisions for forced-heirship rules apply under Cyprus law in relation to the immovable property of the deceased in Cyprus.
In relation to the movable property, and provided that the deceased had his domicile in the UK, then the provisions under UK law will be applicable.
(4) Copy Passport of the deceased or other evidence of the nationality of the deceased.
(5) Full details – passport numbers and addresses of the beneficiaries. A copy of their respective passports is obviously best, especially in view of anti-money laundering regulations.
(6) Sometimes an original copy of the marriage certificate of the deceased will be required, as will original copies of the birth certificates of the children (this is because of forced heirship laws (see below).
(7) A power of attorney must be drafted appointing a local lawyer to act on behalf of the Executor.
The power of attorney must be signed at the High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in UK, or the power of attorney may be notarised and an Apostille affixed.
(8) If the deceased was a tax resident in the UK, we need confirmation from HMRC of such fact, or from the country of which the deceased was a tax resident. Sometimes confirmation of the income tax earned by the deceased (being usually income tax returns filed / and evidence of any private or state pension) during the three (3) years prior to the date of death may be required.
(9) An application for probate (resealing of the Grant of probate) must be made to the Court in Nicosia either by the executor or a representative appointed under the above Power of Attorney. The appointment will have to be supported by an affidavit attaching all the relevant documents required for the granting of the resealing order including a “guarantee” to be given by the representative in accordance with the Cyprus Rules of Court. Once the application is filed in Court the local lawyers will have to apply to the Inland Revenue department to obtain the “Temporary Tax Discharge Certificate”.
(10) After the temporary tax discharge certificate is issued, it will be submitted to the Court registrar in order to proceed with the issuing of the resealing order.
Please note that before the issuing of the order or probate, a publication of the application for resealing or administration will have to be made in the official Gazette and a Cyprus daily newspaper. Once the resealing order is issued, the executor’s representative in Cyprus will be in position to take the necessary steps in order to administer the property of the deceased. The representative of the executor in Cyprus will also have to submit to the Inland Revenue the relevant tax forms and tax assessments before the Final Tax Discharge Certificate is issued, and which will have to be filed in the Court.
The money from bank accounts can only be touched after the letters of executorship and tax discharges are issued in Cyprus, unless the bank account(s) are in joint names. The banks will permit the representative of the executor to take all the cash and place it in a new “administration account” out of which the monies due to the beneficiaries will be paid – either by cheque or by bank transfer. If the bank account is in joint names, and either of the joint account holders can withdraw monies from the account on their own signature, then the survivor can withdraw all the monies form the bank account and close the bank account. Also, if the survivor or beneficiary has power under a bank mandate signed by the deceased to withdraw money from the bank account, and if such mandate is in place, then such survivor or beneficiary may withdraw all the monies in the bank account and close the deceased’s account.
Resealing of the Grant will be required if the deceased was the sole account holder or if the bank mandate does not allow withdrawal on the signature of just one of the account holders.
If any real estate is held in joint names, such real estate will also be part of the resealing application. The concept of joint tenancy does not apply, and so immovable property is held as tenants in common. This means that the share of the deceased will be distributed to the rightful heirs through the land registry. A surviving spouse does not automatically inherit the deceased spouse’s share of the immovable property. Costs and legal fees in the event that the real estate wholly or in part is sold, can only be assessed once buyers are found.
Please also note that the real estate property cannot be transferred to the surviving joint owner by the production of deceased’s death certificate, and title does not pass automatically to the surviving joint owner.
Any stocks & shares will also be part of the resealing application and cannot be transferred automatically to the surviving spouse or relatives. As indicated above, shares do not automatically pass to the surviving joint owner. As joint ownership of shares is unusual in Cyprus, such transfer of the deceased’s interest in the shares will be governed by the Articles of Association of the Company concerned (assuming a private company).
As regards the local lawyers’ fees, these are set by the Cyprus Bar Association, and are usually set at 5% of the value of the Cyprus assets plus VAT and expenses. Probate Court filing fees vary between €300 – €800.