DETERMINATION OF HEIRSHIP
In the Turkish Civil Code (Articles 495-574), it is regulated determination of heirship. After death, legal heirs must first be determined. Legal heirs include blood relatives (up to a certain degree), adopted and adopted descendants, surviving spouse, and the government in the absence of an heir. Apart from the legal heirs, the inheritor can voluntarily designate an appointed heir without infringing on the reserved share of the legal heirs with death-related disposition.
The inheritor may leave less inheritance to some and more to others and may appoint someone who is not in the legal heir group as an heir. The legator can only dispose of their assets with one of the forms of testamentary disposition stipulated in the law (testament, inheritance contract, assignment of heirs, etc.). Therefore, determination of heirship must be completed after inheritor’s death, legal heirs should be determined first; it should be determined whether there is an appointed heir through death-related disposition, and the distribution should be made taking into account the reserved shares of the legal heirs.
DETERMINATION AND CALCULATION OF INHERITANCE SHARES
Inheritance Law in Turkey, the clan system is used to determine the inheritance shares.
- First-class heirs are descendants of the inheritor.
- The second group of heirs includes the parents of the inheritor and their descendants.
- The third group of heirs includes the grandparents of the legator and their descendants.
- The surviving spouse becomes an heir with all three groups.
First-class heirs become legal heirs. If there is no heir in the first group, the heirs of the second group will inherit.
If there is no heir in the third group, the inheritance share passes to the government if the inheritor does not voluntarily appoint an heir and their spouse does not exist.
A valid marriage contract is required for the surviving spouse to be the heir after the death of the inheritor. Engagement or de facto relationships do not give the right to be a legal heir. If the divorce is finalized, the spouses cannot be the heirs of each other. If there are heirs in the first group, those in the second and third groups cannot be heirs. Apart from the descendants of the inheritor by blood ties, those related to the inheritor through an adoptive relationship are also considered from the first class.
RESERVED PORTION INHERITANCE SHARE
The demand of the heir, which is envisaged by law and cannot be freely disposed of by the inheritor, is called the reserved share. The inheritor may voluntarily dispose of the remaining portions after deducting the reserved shares of their heirs. The reserved inheritance share is transferred to the heirs without any limitation, and its acquisition is not subject to any conditions under inheritance law in Turkey.
The reserved inheritance share cannot be tied to any conditions, and the appointed heir cannot encroach on it. If the inheritor has damaged the reserved shares of the heirs with the testamentary disposition, the testamentary disposition containing this damage does not automatically become invalid. The heir whose reserved share is damaged must request the cancellation of the disposition from the violator within the time limit.
According to inheritance law in Turkey; the heirs of the legator with a reserved share are their descendants (children, grandchildren, grandchildren’s children, etc.), their surviving spouse, and if there is no heir, their parents. If the surviving spouse is the sole legal heir, their reserved share is ¾. If the descendant of the legator and heir, the spouse reserved share is ½, and if the mother and father of the legator are heirs, the spouse’s reserved share is ¼.
Children’s Reserved Share:
The reserved inheritance share of the descendants is half of the legal inheritance share. Child descendants include children adopted by the inheritor and those who are born out of wedlock but connected to the inheritor by lineage.
If the first estate of the legator does not have an heir, the heirs of the second group become heirs to the inheritor. While the mother and father from the second group are the heirs with a reserved share, siblings are not heirs with reserved shares. In this situation, ¼ of the legal inheritance share is the reserved inheritance share of the mother and father.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE SURVIVING SPOUSE TO BENEFIT FROM INHERITANCE APART FROM THE LEGAL INHERITANCE SHARE
If the spouses want the surviving spouse to benefit from the inheritance share more than the legal inheritance share, they can do this by the property regime they accept and by leaving the savings rate of the inheritor to the other spouse in the inheritance Law in Turkey.
Allocation of the Savings Rate:
The inheritor may leave the amount corresponding to their own savings rate to the surviving spouse, except for the reserved inheritance shares of their heirs with reserved shares. In addition, the inheritor can predict which goods they want to keep for the spouse in the inheritance with testamentary disposition. For example, the legator may testify that all of their property will be left to their spouse, and the heirs with reserved shares will be paid in cash.
Inheritance Waiver Agreement:
The inheritor can make a waiver agreement with the heirs with reserved shares. In this case, the entire property remains with the surviving spouse. You can find our article on the terms of the waiver of inheritance here.
Benefiting the Spouse in the Regime of Participation in Acquired Goods:
According to Article 216 of the Turkish Civil Code, the surviving spouse and the deceased spouse are entitled to more than half of the residual value in the regime of participation in acquired property. However, the spouses can also decide on another rate with the property regime agreement they will make between them. Please review this page for information about property regime agreements called marriage contracts.
WHAT IS INHERITANCE COMMUNITY?
Inheritance community is automatically formed for all heirs after the death of the testator, subject to the conditions specified in the Turkish Civil Code. Inheritance community includes all heirs who own the entire estate or a portion of it, as well as the heirs designated by will, in addition to legal heirs.
Inheritance community cannot be terminated without the agreement of the parties or a court decision. Inheritance community continues for the period determined by the law. The duration of inheritance community continues until the conditions requiring the distribution of the inheritance are eliminated.
During the inheritance community period, preparations for the distribution of the inheritance can be made. The parties may reach an agreement for the distribution of the inheritance. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the court may determine the distribution of the inheritance.
During the inheritance community period, the management of the inheritance is carried out by legal heirs or heirs designated by will who have equal rights in the decision-making process. If the heirs have a disagreement among themselves, one of the heirs may request the appointment of a representative to the inheritance community from the court.
Inheritance community is a mechanism that allows time for the necessary preparations for the distribution of the inheritance. However, as the duration of the inheritance community extends, disagreements between the parties may increase, and the process of distributing the inheritance may be prolonged. Therefore, it is recommended that the parties reach an agreement during the inheritance community process and distribute the inheritance as soon as possible.
INHERITANCE RIGHTS OF FOREIGNERS IN TURKEY
In Turkey, the inheritance rights of foreigners are regulated by the Turkish Civil Code. The Turkish Civil Code constitutes the primary legal framework governing inheritance law in Turkey. The inheritance rights of foreigners are based on the same principles as those of Turkish citizens.
According to the Turkish Civil Code, the principle of “international personality” is generally applicable in matters of inheritance. This principle stipulates that the law of the country of citizenship of the deceased person determines the applicable inheritance law in Turkey. In other words, the inheritance rights of foreigners are evaluated according to the nationality of the deceased and the relevant rules of that country.
However, there are certain limitations and specific regulations regarding the inheritance of movable and immovable properties in Turkey. For instance, a foreigner who owns immovable property in Turkey may have more limited inheritance rights compared to Turkish citizens. In this regard, the harmony and priority rules between the legal regulations of the country of the deceased and Turkish law are taken into account.
In terms of inheritance law in Turkey, it is not important whether the heir is a Turkish citizen or not. If foreigners have acquired the title of heir in Turkey, all of their legal rights are protected, and they receive their share of the inheritance, just like Turkish citizens, in accordance with the Turkish Civil Code. The inheritance rights of foreigners are protected according to Turkish laws.
If the inheritor is not a Turkish citizen and has both cash and non-cash assets (such as immovable properties like houses, vehicles, stocks, etc.) in Turkey, first, the rules of authority are determined in accordance with the International Private and Procedural Law No. 5718 to protect inhertiance rights of foreigners in Turkey. Then, the bilateral agreements with the country of citizenship of the legator are examined.
If no obstacles are encountered, the inheritance is shared between the heirs for the assets of the inheritor. The heirs have the freedom to keep the inherited assets in Turkey or take them abroad. You can find our article on the inheritance process here.
TYPE OF CASES COVERED BY INHERITANCE LAW IN TURKEY
Inheritance law encompasses a wide range of legal cases. Determining which type of case to pursue in a given situation requires expertise and experience. The following are some of the most common types of inheritance law cases, but they are not limited to these:
- Partition Lawsuits: Lawsuits filed when there is a disagreement among heirs regarding the division of the deceased’s estate. When there is a dispute among heirs regarding the distribution, a lawsuit can be filed to determine a fair partition of the inheritance.
- Disinheritance Lawsuits: Lawsuits filed when an heir wishes to renounce the inheritance or when an heir contests the renouncement of the inheritance. Disinheritance lawsuits may arise when heirs seek to avoid the obligations associated with the inheritance or when they do not wish to be recognized as heirs.
- Annulment of Will Lawsuits: Lawsuits filed when there is a dispute over the validity or legality of a will. In these cases, heirs or other concerned parties may challenge the legality of the provisions in the will or question the validity of the entire document.
- Determination of Inheritance Shares Lawsuits: Lawsuits filed when there are multiple heirs to the deceased’s estate, seeking to determine the distribution of inheritance shares among the heirs. In cases where there is a dispute among heirs regarding the distribution, a lawsuit can be initiated to determine the shares of each heir.
- Lawsuits for Determining the Existence of Inheritance: Lawsuits filed when there is a dispute among the deceased’s heirs or potential heirs regarding the existence of an inheritance. The purpose of such lawsuits is to establish the existence, extent, and rightful heirs of the inheritance.
- Lawsuits for Restitution of Inherited Property: Lawsuits filed for the restitution of assets that belong to the heirs but have been wrongfully acquired or claimed by others, either during the deceased’s lifetime or after their death. In such cases, heirs may allege that the inheritance assets have been unlawfully taken by another person and seek their return.
- Lawsuits for Spousal Share: When a person dies, their surviving spouse may be entitled to a spousal share as per the Turkish Civil Code. In order to claim this spousal share, the surviving spouse needs to file a lawsuit. Although these cases are considered within the scope of Family Law, they are directly related to inheritance law.
- Will Contest Lawsuits: Lawsuits filed when the provisions or conditions in a will are alleged to be unlawful. In these cases, heirs or other concerned parties may claim that the provisions or conditions in the will are not valid or are contrary to the law, and they may request a court decision of nullity (tenkis).
- Lawsuits for Division of Real Estate: Lawsuits filed when the deceased’s estate includes real estate (immovable property) and there are multiple heirs. These lawsuits deal with the division of real estate among the heirs. When there is a dispute among heirs regarding the division of real estate, a lawsuit can be initiated to ensure a fair distribution.
- Lawsuits for Annulment of Inheritance: Lawsuits filed when the inheritance provisions of the deceased are alleged to be contrary to laws or moral values. In these cases, heirs or other concerned parties may claim that the will or other provisions related to the inheritance should be annulled or modified.
- Lawsuits for the Enforcement of Wills: Lawsuits filed to ensure the fulfillment and implementation of the provisions stated in a will. In these cases, heirs or other concerned parties may request the complete implementation of the provisions in the will.
- Lawsuits for Equalization of Inheritance: Lawsuits filed when the deceased has left a disproportionate amount of inheritance to one heir compared to the others. In these cases, heirs may claim that the inheritance should be shared equally among all heirs, and that the rights of other heirs should be protected.
- Lawsuits for Cancellation of Heirship Certificate: Lawsuits filed to challenge the recognition of an individual as an heir. In such cases, the person recognized as an heir may claim that they are not entitled to inherit or that they have been mistakenly acknowledged as an heir.
In addition to these cases, there can be lawsuits related to the administration of the inheritance, heirship disputes, debts and claims arising from inheritance law, in Turkey among others. Each case may vary based on specific circumstances and the inheritance laws of the country. Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice and consult an experienced attorney when faced with a specific legal situation.
IMPORTANCE OF GETTING SUPPORT FROM A INHERITANCE LAWYER IN TURKEY
The determination of legal inheritance share and reserved shares is crucial in protecting the rights of heirs. Inheritance lawsuits in Turkey can take several years, and heirs may abandon their case or agree to less than their rightful share as a result. Thus, it is the duty of an inheritance lawyer in Turkey to accurately calculate and distribute legal shares to heirs in accordance with relevant legislation to avoid prolonged legal disputes. This will allow heirs to complete the inheritance sharing process peacefully without the moral and financial burdens associated with a lawsuit or being sued by other heirs.
However, in the event of an inheritance lawsuit, it is vital to seek legal assistance and continue the case with a inheritance lawyer in Turkey. Inheritance law is a complex field and adheres to strict procedural rules. A procedural error by either party could prolong the legal process or lead to rejection of the case. Seeking help from a professional inheritance lawyer in Turkey can prevent such mistakes and ensure the highest interest of the heirs is protected before the law.
Foreigners inheriting assets in Turkey are also subject to Turkish inheritance law, which differs from the laws of other countries. Therefore, it is essential to seek the help of a inheritance lawyer in Turkey to understand the applicable laws and regulations in Turkey and ensure a smooth inheritance process.