There a number of grounds under which it may be possible to contest / challenge a Cyprus Will. These grounds include:
- lack of legal capacity
- lack of valid execution
- undue influence
- fraud / forgery and
1. Lack of legal capacity
Section 23 of the Cyprus Wills and Succession Law, Cap. 195, provides that only adult persons of sound mind have the legal capacity to make a Will. For a Will to be valid, an adult person must:
- understand that they are making a Will;
- understand the effect of the Will;
- know the nature and value of their estate;
- understand the consequences of including and excluding certain people under their Will; and
- not be suffering from any ‘disorder of mind’ which may influence their views.
Any of the above will be considered when a Will is challenged on the grounds of lack of capacity of the person making the Will (the testator).
2. Lack of valid execution
Under Cyprus law a Will is void if it fails to meet one or more of the following requirements (as set out in Section 23 of the Cyprus Wills and Succession Law, Cap. 195):
(a) the Will must be in writing and signed by the testator or signed by someone else in their presence, who has been directed to do so by the testator;
(b) the testator’s signature must be placed or acknowledged in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time;
(c) the witnesses confirm or acknowledge the signature of the testator and countersign the Will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other;
(d) if the will is made up of more than one sheet of paper, each sheet shall be signed or initialled by or on behalf of the testator and the witness.
The legal presumption is that a will has been validly executed unless there is evidence to the contrary such as doubts over any of the above factors. There are also strict rules about who can and cannot witness a Will.
3. Undue Influence
In order to establish that the testator was unduly influenced, coerced or under duress when making a will you must show ‘actual undue influence’.
It must be established that the testator drafted the will under an improper pressure or influence of another person. The evidence needed to prove undue influence must be of a high standard, to the extent that there is no other reasonable theory to explain the terms of the will.
4. Forgery & Fraud
The validity of a Will can be challenged under the ground of forgery or fraud. There must be evidence that at the time of execution of the Will the testator was the victim of fraud or that the Will is forged.
5. Construction & Professional Negligence Claims
Where the words used in a Will are unclear or ambiguous a court can be asked to determine the meaning of the words used in the will.
If a Will is negligently drafted a claim of negligence may also be made if the Will was drafted by a “professional”.
How can we help you?
We can help you draft a Will and advise you on the validity of Wills.
If you believe that a person has made a Will as a result of significant coercion by another person or you are facing such a claim, we can help. Additionally, if you believe that a will is the result of a fraud or forgery, we are able to advise you.
We can also assist if a dispute has arisen relating to the administration of a deceased person’s estate (eg. the value of assets, interpretation of the Will etc).
Theodorou Law is a Cyprus law firm with Cyprus lawyers and other legal experts on legal matters involving Cyprus law, EU law and international law.
The above should be used as a source of general information only. It is not intended to give a definitive statement of the law.
If you have a query or wish to receive further information, please contact us using using [email protected]