Comparison of Turkish and English Inheritance Law

Comparison of Turkish and English Inheritance Law*

In the United Kingdom, the intestacy rules have been uniform since 1925, a year before the acceptance of the Civil Code in 1926 in Turkey. In the UK, in order to provide fair provisions for dependent spouses or other relatives, the rules have been supplemented by the discretionary provisions of the Inheritance Act of 1975, The Provisions for Family and Dependants.

According to the Turkish Civil Code (TCC), heirs are counted as: descendants of the inheritor, parents of the inheritor and their children, and finally the grandparents of the inheritor and their children. Succession law in the UK has a gradual system as well, including not only the spouse but also the civil partner of the deceased.

Inheritance laws in the UK vary across the constituent countries. In England and Wales, there is no forced heirship, and people are free to leave their property to whomever they wish by making a last will in the UK. In modern law systems, the deceased are free to assign their property to any individual or organization as they wish, yet there are some legal boundaries in order to prevent any damage regarding the liquidation of the assets.

To give an example, in Scotland, similar to Turkey, a surviving spouse and children have a statutory claim to parts of the estate. If the deceased had a spouse and children, both parties can receive a third of each of the net movable assets. Where there is only a spouse or children, they are entitled to 50% of net movable assets. 

This regulation is called reserved portion and according to the TCC heirs with hidden shares are descendants, mother, father, and surviving spouse of the inheritor. Whereas the hidden share rate of the descendant is 1/2, the mother and father’s reserved share ratio is 1/4 of the legal inheritance. Also if the surviving spouse becomes heir with the linear kinship, the entire legal inheritance share will be the reserved share.

It was stated that the inheritor has the liberty to assign their assets as they wish. Nevertheless, it is not always the case. As long as it does not interfere with the reserved portion of the inheritance, the inheritor may determine the ratio of the assets which will be given to the heirs. Though the moment the preserved share is violated, heirs with hidden shares may request action for reduction from the court.

Making a will is encouraged in modern law systems, however, if a person dies without making a will, regulations will protect the inheritor’s assets in order to provide a fair division. 

In case of death without a will, UK laws distribute the estate between the immediate family members: spouse, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

  • The husband, wife, or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder
  • The other half is then divided equally between the surviving children
  • If a son or daughter has already died, their children will inherit in their place.

Under these conditions, it is fair to state that the inheritance system of the UK is similar to the TCC. In both legal systems, if there are no surviving spouses, children, parents, or grandparents, the inheritance will transfer to the government. 

Lastly, in both legal systems, there is an inheritance tax. Inheritance tax is a tax on the estate of someone who has died. In the UK there is normally no inheritance tax to pay if either the value of your estate is below the £325,000 threshold or you leave everything above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse, civil partner, a charity.

*by EKEN, Eylül

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