Definition and requirements
Three essential elements

This article is the fourth in a series on inheritance and succession law in Cyprus and discusses how to make a will (for the first, second and third parts in the series see "Inheritance and succession: statutory portion", "Inheritance and succession: what makes a person unworthy of succession?" and "Inheritance and succession: what share are relatives entitled to?").

Definition and requirements

Under Cyprus law, a will is a written document in which a person, the testator, decides and specifies how their estate will be managed and distributed after death. Because of the legal importance of a will, the laws of descent and distribution require certain elements for a will to be valid.

Three essential elements

There are three essential elements that must be present in a will so that it can be declared valid.

Firstly, there must be a "competent testator". This means that the person must be over the minimum age that is required by law (ie, over 18 years old), and that the person must be of "sound mind". The testator can be described as having a "sound mind" when they are considered mentally well and can understand the nature and consequences of the testamentary act (ie, they have awareness of the act of writing a will, how much property they own and the names of the heirs or other family members that are eligible to receive a share from the estate). The person must be competent at the time at which they make the will, as opposed to the date of their death, when the will takes effect.

Secondly, the document purporting to be a valid will must meet the well-known typical or "execution requirements of a will", which the law defines. In Cyprus, these formalities relate to the writing, signing, witnessing and attestation of the will and ensure that the alleged will is the sincere expression of the testator's intention and not a fraudulent document.

Therefore, a will must be in writing and must be signed by the testator or, with their consent, by any person under the testator's direction or request. The testator must sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses who:

  • they recognise;
  • are not a beneficiary of the will, a spouse or civil partner; and
  • confirm the testator's signature.

The witnesses must:

  • sign the will;
  • be able to attest that the testator was competent at the time they made the will;
  • acknowledge that the particular document corresponds to the testator's will, with all the relevant consequences; and
  • attest that this is what the testator honestly intended.

Finally, the third element of a valid will is the fact that it must be clear that the testator acted freely and honestly when expressing their testamentary intention. A will that was written and signed as a result of undue influence, fraud or mistake can be declared void in a probate proceeding.

If a will does not satisfy the above elements, any person who has a financial interest in the estate of the testator can start a court action to challenge the will's validity.

Wills in Cyprus must be drafted by Cyprus lawyers. A Cyprus law firm will be able to provide wills and probate services, including the drafting and legalisation of wills and the administration and execution of a deceased's property in Cyprus.

For further information on this topic please contact Christos Kastanias at AGP Law | A G Paphitis & Co LLC by telephone (+357 25 73 10 00) or by email ([email protected]). The A G Paphitis & Co website can be accessed at