Here, Louise Zambartis explains that care is needed in writing your Will and details how a bad Will can affect your Cyprus property estate.
The Law Society of England and Wales has joined forces with Mencap to issue a warning to all those who have or need to make a Will under English law. Latest Law Society research has revealed that badly-drafted Wills result in ineffective provisions and poor tax planning.
In an article printed in Lexis Nexis News this month (November 2009) the Law Society raised concerns about 'fringe legal markets' in Will writing and probate services where unregulated Will writers have been the subject of complaints. Homemade Wills are also highlighted as a major problem area with one lawyer quoted as estimating that (out of the homemade Wills he has seen) as many as a third have been invalid and a third did not achieve the testator's intentions.
In Cyprus the same issues are prevalent and mirrored. Where an English owner of property in Cyprus fails to make a Will in Cyprus, then (in addition to the extra time spent dealing with the estate because there is no Cyprus Will), the resealing process of the English documentation means that any Will made in the UK will be under scrutiny in Cyprus as well. If there are problems in England these will affect the Cyprus estate too. Moreover, some people assume that the formalities relating to preparation and execution of the Will will be more lax here, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. Different (equally as crucial) rules applying to the contents and manner of preparation of a Cypriot Will.
In Cyprus there is an additional complication as there is confusion over who is actually entitled to make a Will here. Fundamentally, many people (most particularly expats) fail to appreciate that they can or need to make a Will in Cyprus and fail to seek the necessary legal advice to clarify their position, leading to additional costs and complications when it comes to dealing with their property in Cyprus.
Furthermore, the number of specialists with cross jurisdictional experience on the island is so limited that advice is often sought from unregulated or inexperienced “specialists” who have little or no understanding of the complex legal background relating to Wills in Cyprus. In short, the issues raised by The Law Society relating to Wills in England are equally applicable here in Cyprus and my recommendation is very simple, take the Law Society's advice and approach a lawyer who is a specialist in Cyprus to discuss your Wills.
The British High Commission produces a list of English speaking lawyers and that's a good starting point to find a lawyer who can help. You should also ensure that any lawyer you instruct to draft Cyprus Wills has a Cyprus Bar License and is therefore subject to local regulation.