Probate of Greek Wills

The Kytherian, July 23, 2012

Greek Inheritance Law provides the bequest of the deceased’s property to his legal heirs in two ways: through a Will, or in intestacy. In case that the deceased has left a Greek Will, the bequest of the inherited property, i.e. the transfer of the property under the names of his heirs, appointed by the deceased, and to what property assets they are entitled to, is regulated according to the provisions of the Will. Greek law provides three types of Wills: The holographic will; the public will and the    secret will.

Upon the death of the testator, anyone who holds a Will must forward it to the competent Court or Authority, in order to be probated and the content of the Will to be known to everyone. Therefore, the person who holds the handwritten Will or the Notary who holds the public, the secret or the handwritten Will which has been delivered to him, has to apply to the Probate Court  in Greece for its probate. The competent Court for the probate of the Will is the Magistrate Judge (“Protodikeion”) of the area where the Notary Public has its seat or the Magistrate Judge of the place where the person who holds the Handwritten Will forwards it for its probate. Only the original document can be submitted before the competent Probate Court, regardless of its validity. Copy of a missing will, cannot be probated, even if it is a certified copy of the will or a photocopy of same.

The probate is effected by providing the Magistrate Judge with the original Will at an open hearing of the Court. The Judge verifies that the document provided is a Will and that there are no typical flaws which affect its validity and attaches the content of the Will to its Minutes. The Probate Judge does not have the right to rule on any flaws regarding the content and the provisions of the Will. Upon probate, the probated Will is recorded to the Court’s Will recorder, and all Wills probated all over Greece are forwarded to the Court where the deceased had his last residence and to the Athens Court Central Will Recorder. Hence, any Will probated and recorded to any Greek Court may be located through the Athens Court Will Recorder.

Greek law also regulates the issue of the deceased having a Will, which has been already probated by a foreign Court; for example an Australian Will which encompasses the Greek property directly or indirectly.  Such Wills are valid in Greece. An exemplified copy of this probated (by the Australian Court)  Will , should be registered at the Greek probate court.  If the Will or any part of the Probate Ruling is in a language other than Greek, it has to be first officially translated to Greek by a Greek attorney or the Translating Department of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Court certified copy of the Will , its translation to Greek, along with a copy of the deceased’s death certificate are recorded by the competent Court to their Will archives.

Finally, it should be stressed that inheritance rights are accomplished after an “Acceptance of Inheritance” is accomplished. It is only then that the Greek property is conveyed under the heir’s names, and not just by the existence/probate of a Will.

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