Turkish Succession Law

Introduction

Succession law concerns the distribution of a person’s property on his or her death and is a vital area that affects almost everyone. Succession law serves to consider the wishes of the individual as well to provide preservation and security of the family. Under this topic, we will discuss the principles under which the Turkish system of succession operates.

Parental System

Where the deceased did not provide for the distribution of his estate at his death, his estate will pass, in the proportions prescribed by law, to his relatives. These relatives are divided into four (4) groups called parentals.

The first parental consists of the descendants of the deceased (i.e. children, grandchildren), the second of his parents and their descendants (i.e. parents, brothers, sisters), the third of his grandparents and their descendants (i.e. grandparents, uncles, aunts). The final group covers the great grandparents of the deceased who survived.

There is a level of priority among the members of each parental and those nearest in degree take priority over those further removed and any predeceased person will be represented by his or her descendants. In addition, the heirs in the same parental participate in the estate equally. So, for instance, where there are four (4) surviving children of the deceased, the estate will be portioned on a ¼ basis.

As for a surviving spouse, he or she will participate in the distribution of the estate with every parental in different portions. As such, the spouse will take a ¼ in the first parental; ½ in the second parental; ¾ in the third parental and the whole ownership in the fourth parental.

Interestingly, if the deceased leaves no surviving heirs, his estate becomes the property of the State.

Testamentary Dispositions

A testamentary disposition may take the form of a:

  1. Will. A will or testament is essentially a declaration of the intention of the person making it of his wishes to take effect upon or after his death. Under Turkish laws, a will can either be:
    1. An official will, which has been prepared by an official authority;
    2. A halographic will, which was prepared by the deceased himself; and
    3. An oral will or a “soldier will”. This can only be formed in certain circumstances such as war, danger, serious epidemic illnesses and the like. For instance, someone who met in an accident and is unable to perform an official or halographic will may request witnesses to write his wishes on his behalf and give the testament to the court as soon as possible.
  2. Agreement of inheritance. This is a testamentary contract wherein the deceased has agreed to make the passage of his property to his heirs. Unlike a will, the agreement of inheritance is not a unilateral disposition but a bilateral transaction. It, therefore, needs the full capacity (age and mental capacity) of the parties involved in the agreement.

Limits of Free Will

A testator is not wholly free to dispose of his entire estate as he pleases as the law places restrictions that are in favor of his close relatives, by what is referred to as a reserved portion. This portion is reserved for certain relatives of the deceased, including the descendants (children, grandchildren who may receive ½ of their statutory heir), ascendants (father and mother, who may receive ¼ of their statutory heir), brothers and sisters (who may receive 1/8 of their statutory heir) and the surviving spouse (share is dependent) who are classified as privileged heirs.

Requirements for Being a Successor

In order to fulfil the conditions of being a successor, the following must be met:

  1. Being alive at the date of death of the deceased. Only the surviving heirs will inherit the estate;
  2. Being one of the legal or testate successors. Turkish law states that successors are determined by legislation or by the free will of the deceased;
  • Not be barred from inheritance. The testator may have expressed in the will that a successor should not inherit the estate;
  1. Not to lose inheritance rights by means of law. Turkish laws provide grounds for disqualification of heirs from inheriting the estate. For example, to kill or attempt to intentionally or unjustly would justify the loss of the right of inheritance;
  2. Not relinquish the right of inheritance. A successor who has refused inheritance will lose his rights;
  3. Not to disclaim the inheritance. Turkish law provides that a successor can disclaim the inheritance within three (3) months after the recognition of the death of the deceased or official notice was given about the will; and
  • Fulfil the official necessities. The successor may apply for and receive a certificate of inheritance from the Peace Court. Once the successor receives, he may distribute the inheritance according to the respective portions that have been prescribed in the certificate. Where there is disagreement concerning the portions, the heirs may request distribution by a court decision.

Conclusion

Accordingly, succession rights result from the blood relationships between the kinships and aims to protect the extended family, including imposing a reserved portion for the benefit of said family. However, to become a successor to the deceased’s estate, it is important that certain conditions be satisfied.

Turkish Succession Law was last modified: July 20th, 2020 by Gökhan Cindemir