Wills and Inheritance Law in Turkey

Information on inheritance law and the types of will which apply when living in Turkey...

A will (Vasiyetname) is drawn up by a testator who has assets and/or property to be left after their death. The testator has to be able to make a will and must be over the age of 15.

Wills in a language other than Turkish should be translated into Turkish by an official translator. If the will complies with the law, it is valid in Turkey.

There are three main types of will:

  1. A handwritten will
  2. A verbal will
  3. An official will

Handwritten will

A handwritten will must include the following details:

  • The place where the will was written
  • The year, month and date when the will was written
  • It must be written entirely in the testator's handwriting and include their signature

A handwritten will, either open or in an envelope, can be given to a registry office or to a notary public for safekeeping.

Verbal will

A verbal will is made when the last wishes of a testator are spoken in the presence of two witnesses.

If a testator is unable to prepare a handwritten or an official will due to illness, war, interruption of communication, or an extraordinary situation, they can make a verbal will.

When a person makes a verbal will, two witnesses must be present to whom the testator tells his or her last wishes. These two witnesses are then responsible for writing a will according to the testator's wishes. The rules which apply for a handwritten will apply to a verbal will as well.

A handwritten will (which has been drawn up after a verbal will), either open or in an envelope, is given to a justice of the peace, a notary, or an authorised officer for safekeeping.

Official will

An official will can only be made when a civil officer and two witnesses are present. A civil officer can be a justice of the peace, a notary, or an official authorised by law. This officer writes the will, or it is written by another official according to the wishes of the testator.

The testator then has to read and approve what has been written. Then both the officer and the testator sign the will and date it. If the testator cannot or does not wish to sign the will, this must be stated with reasons in a declaration.

The following people cannot participate as a witness in the preparation of an official will:

  • Anyone who is not of sufficient capacity
  • Anyone who has been banned from public service by a criminal court
  • An illiterate person
  • A testator's spouse
  • Blood relatives of the testator
  • Sisters, brothers and their spouses

The following documents are required by a notary when making a will:

  • Passport (translated into Turkish by an official translator)
  • Photographs
  • Medical report from a state hospital or public health clinic
  • Two witnesses to confirm a foreigner's signature
  • Title deeds or licence papers (if a foreigner wants a specific person to inherit a specific property)

Changing a will

It is possible to cancel or change a will, fully or partially, by drawing up a new one.