An individual residing in Cyprus can distribute his/her assets by drafting a Will according to the regulations of Cyprus Wills and Succession Law (Cap. 195). Until 2015, article 42 of Cap. 195 gave the right to British and Commonwealth citizens, as well as to other expatriates, to dispose of their movable and immovable property as they wished.
Article 42 has been removed from Cap. 195, therefore British and Commonwealth citizens, as well as other expats domiciled in Cyprus, are not exempted from the forced heirship regime. Thus, they have no absolute freedom to dispose of their property as they wish. However, non-Cypriot citizens having assets in Cyprus should not be concerned about this change as the EU Regulation No. 650/2012 (Brussels IV) allows expats to choose the law of the country of their nationality. This choice must be declared in their last Will, otherwise Cyprus legislation will apply.
According to Brussels IV, expats, including non-EU citizens, who have assets in any EU member-state (excluding the UK, Ireland and Denmark) are allowed to choose either the law of the country of their nationality or the law of the country of their habitual residence. The choice of applicable law must be clearly expressed in a Will, otherwise the law of the country of residence will apply to the disposal of movable and immovable property.
The Brussels IV does not apply to the UK, Ireland and Denmark which means that these countries will continue to apply their national law to international successions. However, UK, Irish and Danish citizens who have property in other EU countries may choose the law of the country of their nationality or the law of the country of their habitual residence. For instance, if you are a British citizen and you have property in Cyprus you can choose the UK law to apply to the distribution of your assets and thus avoid the forced heirship regime.
The family lawyers of Michael Chambers & Co. LLC are able to advise you on all aspect of Succession and Wills regulations in Cyprus and EU. If you wish to speak to one of our lawyers, then please contact us via email at [email protected].