Wills - UK Cash Assets v Turkish Cash Assets

Hi all,

I recently took instructions from clients who reside in Turkey, however hold British passports. They do not own a property in the UK, and only have cash assets. In Turkey, they have cash assets, and rent a property. They come back to the UK regularly to see their family.

A Will has been drafted in the UK to cover their UK Cash assets. The clients are now seeking advice as to the forced heirship rules of Turkey. These rules state that the Estate passes to the first born son. My client does not have contact with his first born son, and has not for over 30 years. He instead wishes to leave his Estate to his third born child.

Am I correct in thinking that the UK Will shall not cover the Turkish assets, and these will be subject to the laws of succession in Turkey?

I have of course advised that they seek advice from a Solicitor in Turkey for clarification of matters.

Many thanks.

Kate, they will need to take Turkish advice as to what Turkish law would do in these circumstances. It might give effect to the UK Will (assuming it is not limited in scope), but only for a proportion of the estate, for example. I don’t know if it is possible under Turkish law to choose the law that you wish to apply to your succession.

A brief internet search suggests Turkey would not pass assets only to the first born son. Instead a number of relatives appear to be ‘guaranteed’ a reserved portion.

Christopher Salomons

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This may not be relevant, but you may need to enquire whether there are any religious laws applicable, e.g. Shari’a and then Chi’ite or Sunni, both of which have slightly differing entitlement rights for children, and the wife.

It will depend if they have acquired a domicile of choice in Turkey and Turkish law will decide how their movable assets (lex domicilli) will be distributed. An English Will might be superfluous given there is no real property (lex situs)here any more which would otherwise have required an English Will. Sorry if my Latin is a bit off but stupidly commenting late at night. There might be a Turkish law firm in this country that can advise or a Turkish Counsel based in the U.K. that could be instructed perhaps. If your clients are willing to pay of course.

I believe the other replies cover most aspects for solving (at least initially) your problem. Domicile will be important as well as seeing what Turkish law has to say). I would certainly draft the UK Will to cover only the English assets and state that fact in the Will. I would also make sure that the English Will states clearly why the first born son is being excluded from the English assets and why the third child is the the beneficiary of the English assets. Also include a provision that if the first son does challenge the English Will, then he only inherits a set sum of money (say £1,000). I would also make sure that the English Will is signed and witnessed in England and is not sent to Turkey for signature. Make sure the original stays in England with the local solicitor. Make sure that one of the witnesses is an English solicitor…

As a practical matter are the UK assets substantial enough to justify the first son taking legal action to try and enforce any right he may have under Turkish forced heirship rules?

Has any thought been given to, for example, having the English assets moved into a trust (or some other legal entity) for the benefit of the third child at this time, as this might avoid Turkish forced heirship provisions?
Peter Double / Probate Resealing Services