Α testament is the written statement of a person's (The Testator) intents with regards to the way he/she wishes his/her movable and immovable property to be disposed post mortem. Every person is entitled by the testament to dispose part or whole of their property.
The testament can be composed by any person who is over 18 years old and is sane. Therefore mentally retarded or under age persons are not allowed to compose a testament.
A testament is considered valid when it is written according to the conditions set in the Testament and Succession Law, Chap. 195; otherwise, it will be declared void by the Court and it cannot be applied. Bearing in mind that the validation of a testament takes place after the death of the testator, there is no room for syntax errors, as these may cause cancellation or non applicability of the testament.
A testament is considered valid when it fulfills the following simple yet basic criteria:
- It must be written.
- It must be signed by the testator at the bottom or at the end.
- If it exceeds one page, then a signature of the testator must be placed at the bottom of each page or at the end.
- The testator's signature is placed before two witnesses, who sign the testament simultaneously at the testator's presence.
Witness in a testament can be any person who is over 18 years old and is sane. It is highly recommended to acquire all of the witness's particulars (e.g. ID number, address etc) when composing the testament, so he/she can be easily identified/traced when it comes to confirming the testator's signature. However, it must be pointed out that witnesses can confirm only the testator's signature and not the content of the testament, which they likely may ignore.
In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, a testament is considered valid and applicable when it is properly stamped and dated. Moreover, in order to avoid any doubts/ double meanings, the intent of the testator must be expressed in a specific and clear way. For example, I give and bequeath my car, type xx and registration number xx (full details) to my xx cousin (full details); not, I give and bequeath my car to my cousin in general, while I have dozens of cars and cousins.
If the whole or part of the testament is composed because of duress, fraud or undue influence then that part is considered invalid and will not be applied. The person who claims that the testament was signed because of duress, pressure and/or fraud has the burden of proof.
It must also be pointed out that one's right to dispose his/her property with a testament according to the Cyprus inheritance law is not absolute and is subject to restrictions.
If the testator has a spouse and children or descendants, the available part which he/she is entitled to dispose by testament must not exceed the ¼ of the heritage's net value. If the testator has a spouse or parent and no children, then the available part which he is entitled to dispose by testament must not exceed the ½ of the heritage's net value. The net value of the testator's heritage is calculated on the date of his/her death and not on the date of the composition of the testament. If the testator has neither spouse nor children, nor descendants nor parents then he/she is entitled to dispose the property in any way he/she wishes.
If the testator disposes a bigger part than the one allowed by the law, the distribution shall be reduced and cut out so that it complies with the above-mentioned restrictions.