By Katerina Papadea,
The death of a person arises many legal issues and questions, such as “what will be the fate of the person’s property after their death and how will it be distributed?” and “which persons succeed the deceased in the estate?”. The legal answer to these questions is given by inheritance law, which is the set of rules of law that govern the property consequences of a person’s death, and which is based on the freedom of man to dispose of their property after death as they wish and to protect off the family of the deceased.
More specifically, the heir is entitled to choose the type and content of his will. The heir is entitled to choose how the fate of the property relations for the time of their death is regulated. However, this does not imply the complete freedom of the latter, which is subject to certain restrictions. In particular, on the one hand there is the “freedom of disposition”, on the basis of which the heir chooses the heirs, on the other hand, the law restricts them and provides that a certain percentage of the inheritance (legal fate) will pass, regardless of will, to the spouse and relatives available. Moreover, in the absence of a will, the unallocated succession applies, where the property passes to specific members of the heir’s family. The specific provisions on the legal fate and the unintentional succession in the law of inheritance aim precisely at the protection of the family of the deceased, who is entitled by law to participate in the property of the heir after their death.
Regarding, now, in the capacity of the heir, who plays a leading role in the law of inheritance, they are usually a natural or legal person, who has been legally established at the death of the heir. This natural or legal person is always a universal and immediate successor, which means that, by inheriting the diseased, they acquire not only the active part of the property, but also their debts. At the same time, it means that the inheritance occurs immediately after the death of the heir, without the mediation over another period or another person and without the need for their heir to perform any other act. In addition, for a person to acquire the status of heir, or without a will (out of disposition), where the person must have a certain kinship with the heir, or based on legal fate, i.e. compulsory succession, where the law seizes a part of the inherited property in favor of certain members of their family.
As mentioned before, the heir is a universal successor, succeeding the deceased in his debts. They do not succeed the heir only actively, but also passively, shouldering all the obligations of the inheritance and bearing responsibility for the debts of the disease with their personal property. Essentially, what happens to them is a merger of the inheritance with the personal property of the heir, a fact that gives them additional obligations. Precisely because additional obligations and responsibilities arise, the heir has the right to renounce the inheritance, declaring before the clerk of the court of inheritance that they do not wish the inheritance. With the renunciation’s process, the renouncer is considered to have never become a heir and the inheritance falls to the one who would have been called if the renounced one did not live at the death of the heir.
In summary, it becomes clear that inheritance law determines how and to whom a person’s property will be distributed after their death, making it clear that after a person’s death their property and debts do not disappear, but are transferred to other people, who succeed all their legal relationships. The rules and provisions of inheritance law are contained in the 5th and last book of the Civil Code and undertake to manage the inheritance disputes created by the transfer of the inherited property to his successors but also the disputes created between the heirs and third/other parties.
- Valmas Associates – Greek Law Firm, Inheritances and Wills, Available here
- Γεωργιάδης, Σ. Απ., Τι είναι δίκαιο; – Η νομική επιστήμη για όλους, 2018, Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις Κρήτης
- Σπυριδάκης, Ι., Κληρονομικό Δίκαιο, 4η Έκδοση, 2018, Εκδόσεις Σάκκουλας, Αθήνα