Turkish Inheritance Law – Law of Succession
Law of succession is a law area which regulates the terms and conditions after the person dies. Turkish inheritance law, as all other modern law systems, is the body of rules applied to determine who will inherit the assets of the deceased and how the assets will be distributed.
The totality of the property belonging to a person is called their assets. Under Turkish inheritance law, upon the death of a person, his/her entire assets passes to the heirs. The only question how this is effected- by operation of law or by the will of the deceased?
Turkish inheritance law recognizes two types of heir; statutory heir and the appointed heir.
Statutory heirs and their respective inheritance rights are expressly derived from the Turkish Civil Code, i.e. by statute. Accordingly, the heirs who are first in line are deemed to be the descendants of the deceased person. If the deceased person left no descendants, the Civil Code set out that the parents, as the second-in-line heirs, will inherit the asset. Moreover, the Code recognizes full equality between male and female statutory heirs, unlike most of other Middle Eastern countries. The inheritance rights of descendants will devolve onto their own descendants if any of the former is no longer alive when the inheritance takes effect.
Appointed heirs (successors) are those heirs expressly and specificly designated by the deceased in a will (testament). The Civil Code, which governs the Turkish inheritance law, recognizes that all persons having the requisite capacity, exercising sound judgment and who have completed their fifteenth year could be the beneficiary of the inheritance. The person would be entitled to write a will and determine the name of the heirs and the method of the distribution during his/her lifetime.
Does Turkish Inheritance Law recognize “will” ?
Under some some jurisdictions, testamentary (will) capacity is absolute, for instance, in the United States there are very few limitations on how much of the assets can be distributed by a will, and how this can be done. For example, it is not uncommon for people to leave their assets to a favourite pet.
However, Turkish inheritance law imposes certain restrictions on freedom of will. The rights of statutory heirs are protected by the applicable law to the extent of statutory heir’s reserved shares. For instance, according to the Code, descendants are entitled to half of the deceased’s assets and that cannot be disinherited of this share by any act of the deceased (inc. will). This is known as the reserved share of the statutory heir. As a result of that, the will freedom is limited by law to only half of his/her assets (Turkish Civil Code Art. 506)
Another important concept of the law of succession is the inheritance agreement. This is an agreement whereby a person promises to leave upon his/her death, the entire asset, or a specific part of it (for e.g, a house), to the other party. Such an agreement could be concluded, for instance, between a person and his long-time servant. Turkish law recognizes such agreements, which can therefore be enforced if not otherwise invalid. In any case, reserved shares of the descendants are to be kept safe.
For any specific Turkish inheritance law questions/queries, E&G law firm lawyers would be happy to assist you.