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Unlocking Cross-Border Inheritance: Navigating Turkish Estates and Assets

Managing Wills and Estates Across Borders Dealing with cross-border wills and estates can be exceedingly intricate, and the applicable law hinges on your individual circumstances. It is vital to seek personalized legal counsel for your wills and inheritance matters. The following information is of a general nature and assumes that you are domiciled in England and Wales while holding assets in both England and Turkey. It does not replace advice from a qualified and experienced attorney.

Connecting You with Legal Experts Worldwide Lawyers can connect you with a legal expert having the requisite experience to provide guidance and assistance concerning the succession of your Turkish assets.

The Necessity of a Turkish Will A will serves to articulate your desires regarding the disposition of your personal possessions after your passing. It is a legally binding document specifying the individuals you wish to inherit designated portions of your estate. Crafting a will is advisable for most individuals to ensure their estate is distributed according to their preferences and to circumvent the intricate intestacy procedures that come into play in the absence of a will.

Contrasting Legal Systems The laws pertaining to wills and inheritance in Turkey are significantly distinct from those in England and Wales. For those holding assets in both Turkey and England, these disparities must be meticulously considered when preparing a will, whether in Turkey or England. For Turkish asset holders, creating a separate Turkish will is highly recommended. Consultation with a specialized attorney is essential to determine the best course of action based on your unique situation.

The Benefits of Dual Wills The preparation of both Turkish and English wills, each addressing assets in their respective country, can streamline the inheritance process, averting delays and complications. This approach can facilitate the administration of your estate after your passing, potentially reducing costs and complexities. It is critical to ensure that these wills do not conflict with each other and are designed to work harmoniously to achieve the intended outcomes.

Inheriting Turkish Assets Under English law, testators possess "testamentary freedom," enabling them to select the beneficiaries of their estate and determine the distribution ratios, as long as it is outlined in a valid will. In contrast, Turkey employs a system of forced heirship, mandating that specific portions of an individual's estate must be bequeathed to particular relatives, and this cannot be overridden by a will. However, Turkish law allows national law to apply to the estate instead of Turkish law, affording individuals such as English nationals the freedom to allocate their assets according to their English will. However, specific circumstances, like being married to a Turkish citizen and residing in Turkey, may lead to the application of Turkish inheritance law.

Potential Inheritance Taxation The prospect of paying inheritance tax varies based on several factors and individual circumstances. As a general principle, if you are "domiciled" in the UK at the time of your death, your estate will be subject to UK inheritance tax (IHT). IHT is levied at a rate of 40% on the combined value of your worldwide estate exceeding the tax-free allowance, currently set at £325,000. Whether or not a person is domiciled in a particular country for inheritance tax purposes is a highly complex issue, necessitating expert legal counsel. Your "worldwide estate" encompasses the value of your English and Turkish assets, along with any assets in other countries and gifts made before your death. Exemptions and reliefs may apply to reduce IHT based on your beneficiaries and the nature of your assets. For instance, married couples and registered civil partners can transfer assets to each other during their lifetime or upon death without incurring IHT, potentially doubling the tax-free threshold for the second spouse. Nonetheless, professional advice and thoughtful planning are instrumental in minimizing the tax burden, ensuring your beneficiaries receive the maximum inheritance.

Administering a Turkish Estate - Authority in Estate Administration In English law, the personal representative, known as the "executor" if appointed in a will or "administrator" if appointed by law, holds the authority to administer the estate and manage the deceased's assets. They oversee the estate's administration, manage debt settlement, funeral expenses, and tax payment, and provide an account of the assets to the beneficiaries. Executors can still be appointed under a Turkish will to handle the Turkish estate, although certain tax or cost implications may come into play depending on the chosen executor. If no will exists or no executor is designated, the responsibility of administering the estate falls to the beneficiaries.

Legal Counsel in Turkey It is crucial for English executors and solicitors dealing with an estate involving Turkish assets to seek independent legal counsel from an attorney experienced in Turkish succession law. Legal counsel can guide you through the process, ensuring that the estate is administered efficiently and in the best interests of the beneficiaries. In Turkey, a lawyer can also be appointed through a Power of Attorney to handle estate-related formalities and sign required documentation, simplifying matters.

Steps in Administering a Turkish Estate Anyone holding or discovering a Turkish will is responsible for submitting it to the relevant probate court or authority in Turkey for probate validation. A local judge must open the will within a month of its submission, notifying the beneficiaries of its contents. Title to the estate vests jointly in the beneficiaries upon the death, and a local judge safeguards the estate's interests. Inheritance tax returns must be submitted to the local tax office within four to eight months following the death, contingent on the deceased's and beneficiary's place of residence.

Timeframe for Estate Administration The duration for concluding the administration of a Turkish estate varies according to the specific estate. It is not unusual for the process to take anywhere from 12 months to several years, especially when assets span multiple countries.

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Can Canko

Employment, Contracts and Commercial Law

  • 17 years of legal experience

  • +500 case litigated (solo) globally

  • 276 appeals

  • 153 mediations

  • +$15bn transactional experience

  • Civil and common law qualifications

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