4 October 2015
Greeks are not prone to leaving a Will, unless perhaps they are very old and/or ill. Superstition may be
the reason, or just unwillingness to plan what will happen after someone’s passing. When the deceased
has not left a Will, intestate succession laws kick in. Greek law provides that if there is no Will, the
surviving issue (children or grandchildren) get three quarters (3/4) or 75% of the estate, while the s
urviving spouse gets the remaining one quarter (1/4) or 25%.
For instance, if the deceased left assets of total value of 200,000 euros, and no Will, and her close of kin
are her husband and their three children, the intestate succession means that the husband will inherit
assets worth of 50,000 euros (1/4), and the three children will get 150,000 euros (3/4), meaning each
of the three of them will inherit assets worth of 50,000 euros.
If the deceased left no spouse and only children, then the children inherit the entire estate in equal
shares. If a child has died before the parent, and has had children, these children of the predeceased
child will get their parent’s share. So, if someone passes away and leaves one son and two
grandchildren of a predeceased daughter, the son will inherit intestate 50% and the two grandchildren
will inherit the other 50%, so each of the grandchildren will take 25% of their grandparent’s estate.
If the deceased left no Will, no children and only a spouse, the spouse will get all the estate, unless
the deceased had siblings, in which case the spouse will get 50% of the estate and the siblings of the
deceased will inherit the other 50%. If one sibling has died before the deceased, his/her children are
entitled to get the share, which means that nephews and nieces inherit their uncles and aunts, if their
parent has passed away before the deceased.
If someone passes away without a Will and without spouse and children, the siblings and the parents
of the deceased get the estate, in equal shares. If one of the siblings is not in life, his/her children get
what he/she would have taken if he/she was in life.
If the deceased died intestate and left no parents, spouse, children, siblings, children and
grandchildren of siblings, the grandparents of the deceased are entitled to inherit, and if they are not
in life, their children or grandchildren inherit.
Half blood siblings get half of the share of the full blood siblings.
Greece, as a civil law jurisdiction, does not allow total freedom of testation and provides for the
close of kin, even if they are cut out of the Will. This means that the children and the spouse of the
deceased will always get a share, even if the deceased intentionally left them out of the Will, unless
they had committed a serious crime against the deceased, in which case it is allowed that they are
The law which states that the spouse and the children will always take a minimum share is called
forced heirship and essentially takes away from the deceased the unlimited freedom to dispose of
his/her assets without any restriction. The law of forced heirship in Greece states that the spouse
and the children are entitled to claim half of what they would get, if there was no Will. So, if the
deceased leaves all his property to a third party, who is not related to him, without any provision for
his spouse and children, the deceased’s spouse can claim 12.5% of the estate, since if there was no
Will the spouse would have taken 25%. The children of the deceased are entitled to claim 37.5% of
the estate, since if there was no Will, the children would have taken 75%.
Equally, if the deceased has left only a spouse, no children and siblings, and leaves a Will which
cuts out the spouse, the spouse is entitled to claim 25% of the estate, since if there was no Will,
the spouse who inherits with siblings and no children, would have been entitled to a share of 50%.
The children and the spouse who are always entitled to this minimum share are not obliged to
take it. They can choose not to claim their minimum or forced share, in which case the Will is
enforced in its entirety, even its provisions which cut out the close of kin (children and spouse).
*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at
the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.