Contesting a Will in Greece
Contesting a will in Greece, as in many other jurisdictions, is a serious legal matter.
To contest a will in Greece, one must have solid legal grounds and be able to provide relevant evidence to support these claims.
The right to contest a will in Greece is generally limited to those who have a direct, legitimate interest in the estate of the deceased. This typically includes heirs by law (such as children, spouse or parents of the deceased), beneficiaries named in the will and, in some cases, creditors of the estate who may be affected by the distribution of assets as outlined in the will.
Contact our firm today to contest a will that you believe is invalid or if you are involved in an inheritance dispute.
What are the reasons to contest a will in Greece?
Before exploring the legal grounds required to contest a will in Greece, it is important to note that each case is unique and the specifics can greatly affect the likelihood of a successful will contest. This is always the case when it comes to legal matters, but it is especially true when discussing such a sensitive issue as contesting a will, which involves multiple conflicting parties and has a direct impact on the distribution of assets.
As mentioned above, not all wills are contestable.
In order to contest a will in Greece, there must be a solid legal basis to support the claims being made and sufficient evidence for a court to decide to rule in favor of them.
Some of these legal grounds include lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud or forgery, improper execution, violation of forced heirship rules, or provisions that are against public policy.
Let us look at some of these in more detail.
- Lack of testamentary capacity: This ground for contesting a will is based on the premise that the testator must be of sound mind when making a will. In Greece, this means understanding the nature of making a will, the extent of the assets to be disposed of, and recognizing the claims of potential beneficiaries. For example, if a testator was suffering from severe dementia at the time the will was made, this could be a basis for contesting the will on the grounds that the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand his or her actions.
- Undue influence: This occurs when the testator is subjected to pressure or manipulation that overrides his or her free will. For example, in the Greek context, if an elderly parent is forced by a child to disinherit other siblings, this could be considered undue influence. The key is to prove that the influence exerted was so strong that it prevented the testator from expressing his true intentions.
- Fraud or forgery: Challenging a will on the basis of fraud involves proving that the testator was deceived as to the nature or contents of the document he or she signed. Forgery, on the other hand, means that the will, or some part of it, was not actually made by the testator. An example would be a situation where a relative forges a signature on a will to benefit themselves.
Improper execution: Greek law requires that certain formalities be followed in order for a will to be valid. These include the presence of witnesses and proper documentation of the will. If these legal formalities are not followed, the will may be contested. For example, if a will is signed without the required number of independent witnesses, its validity may be questioned.
- Violation of forced heirship rules: In Greece, certain family members, such as children and spouses, are entitled to a portion of the estate regardless of what the will says. This is known as forced heirship. If a will does not follow these rules, it can be contested. For example, if a parent completely disinherits his or her children in favor of a new spouse, this could be a violation of the children’s forced heirship rights.
- Revocation: This basis for contest involves proving that there is a more recent will that revokes the older one. For example, if a testator wrote a will in 2010, but then wrote a new, conflicting will in 2020, the 2010 will can be challenged on the grounds that it was revoked by the 2020 will.
- Questionable authenticity of documents: If there is any doubt about the authenticity of the will or related documents, beneficiaries or other interested parties may contest the will. For example, if the will purports to have been signed in Athens, but the testator can be proven to have been abroad at the time, the authenticity of the document may be questioned.
This list is not exhaustive, but as it covers the most common grounds for contesting a will in Greece, it may help you to understand whether it is a viable option in your particular case. While some of the information provided may seem to apply to your situation, it must be carefully considered in relation to your specific case before making the decision to contest a will.
The process for contesting a will in Greece
Contesting a will in the Greek courts involves a specific legal process that can be complex and requires strict adherence to procedural norms. Your attorney will advise you on the viability of the case, assist you in gathering the necessary evidence and ensure that legal procedures are followed.
The first step is to file a claim with the appropriate court. In Greece, this is usually the court of first instance in the area where the deceased last resided. The complaint must state the grounds for contesting the will and include any supporting evidence.
After the lawsuit is filed, the other parties involved, usually the beneficiaries named in the will and the executor, are notified and given an opportunity to respond. They may present their own legal arguments and evidence to support the validity of the will.
Both sides prepare their cases, which involves gathering and presenting evidence. This evidence may include witness testimony, expert testimony (e.g., medical testimony in testamentary capacity disputes), documents, and any other relevant information.
The case is then scheduled for a court hearing.
After considering the evidence and arguments, the court will rule on the validity of the will. The judge’s decision will be based on the evidence presented and the applicable Greek inheritance laws.
If either party disagrees with the court’s decision, they have the right to appeal to a higher court. The appeal must be filed within a certain time frame and must be based on substantial legal grounds, such as procedural errors or misinterpretation of the law.
Disputed Will in Greece – FAQs
Below is a list of the questions we are most frequently asked in connection with will contests and inheritance disputes in Greece.
How much does it cost to contest a will in Greece
The cost of contesting a will in Greece can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, attorney’s fees, court costs, and any other expenses related to the legal process (administrative costs, translation fees, travel expenses).
Costs can range from a few thousand dollars for simpler cases to much higher amounts for complex disputes involving substantial estates, but it is very difficult to provide a specific cost figure without detailed information about the case.
If you are considering challenging a will, we will discuss the potential costs in advance so that you have a clear understanding of the financial implications. In addition, we will weigh the potential costs against the value of the estate or the specific portion of the estate being contested.
Who is eligible to contest a will in Greece?
When it comes to Greek inheritance law and wills, eligibility to contest a will in Greece is primarily determined by a person’s direct and legitimate interest in the deceased’s estate.
Typically, this includes all persons who would be entitled to inherit from the deceased in the absence of a will under the statutory rules of intestacy (the Heirs-at-Law). This group often includes the spouse, children and parents of the deceased.
Persons or entities named in the will as beneficiaries also have the right to contest the will, particularly if they have reason to believe that the will does not accurately reflect the testator’s intentions or was subject to outside influences.
In certain cases, a will may also be contested by creditors or others with a direct financial interest in the estate that may be affected by the terms of the will.
How long do I have to contest a will in Greece?
In Greece, the timeframe for contesting a will after it has been disclosed is generally limited and defined by Greek inheritance law. Typically, you have five years to contest a will from the time it is disclosed or made known to potential beneficiaries. This disclosure usually occurs when the will is officially opened and read, which is often shortly after the testator’s death.
However, there may be specific nuances in your situation that could affect this timeframe, so we advise you to contact us as soon as possible if you are considering contesting a will.
Contested Will in Greece? We Can Help You
If you intend to contest a will in Greece, or if you find yourself having to defend a contested will, please contact us for immediate legal advice.
It is important for individuals involved in contesting a will in Greece to have realistic expectations regarding the timeline and potential outcomes.
We will carefully evaluate all of the complexities of probate law and the nuances of your individual case, advise you on the proper course of action, and be by your side until this delicate situation is resolved.
* The information on this site is provided for the sole purpose of illustrating the subject matter. It in no way constitutes legal advice nor a substitute for individual legal advice provided by counsel. Each case is unique, presents unique circumstances, and should be evaluated in detail by an attorney who will verify its specific circumstances.
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Protect Your Interests in Contested Inheritance Cases
The process of contesting a will in Greece can be time consuming and emotionally challenging for all parties involved. From a legal perspective, it is always a serious matter that should be approached with caution, especially when substantial assets or economic interests are at stake. Contact us to protect your interests in contested inheritance cases to the best of your ability.
We Help You Deal With a Contested Will in Greece
Write or call us if you are dealing with a contested inheritance or will in Greece.
We will be by your side and protect your interests at all times during the process.
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