Taxes have gone up for the average Greek in the last decade, due to the economic and social crisis. Inheritance taxes, however, have dropped significantly since 2010, mainly for the immediate family of the deceased.

The first category of heirs who enjoy a significant tax-free amount, includes spouses, partners in civil union contracts, children, grandchildren, as well as the parents of the deceased.

The tax rate for the first category heirs is zero for the first €150,000 worth of inherited assets. In other words, for the first €150,000, the heir does not pay inheritance tax at all. This applies to each heir independently, meaning that if the deceased left three children and a spouse, each of them will inherit €150,000 worth of estate share without paying inheritance tax at all. That is, provided the heir completes the settlement of the estate within the time limits prescribed by law, which is six months if the heirs and the deceased reside in Greece, and 12 months if the heir resides outside of Greece or the deceased passed away while abroad.

It is noteworthy that the spouse who has been married to the deceased for a minimum of five years prior to the death enjoys a much larger €400,000 inheritance tax-free amount. The same applies for the underage children of the deceased, meaning the children who were below 18 years of age at the time of their parent’s death.

If the heirs do not file the inheritance tax declaration to the tax office within the time limits prescribed by law (six or 12 months from the passing or from the probation of the will), each heir will have to pay a penalty for belated filing. The first few months the fine is low, and it is estimated on the amount of inheritance tax to be paid. If there is no inheritance tax to be paid, because the share of the heir is below the tax-free threshold, the penalty usually is a flat €104 fine for each heir.

Those who want to find out their rights on properties in Greece, which belonged to parents or grandparents, uncles or other relatives, must also know that for the heirs of those who have died before 1995, there is no obligation to pay any inheritance tax at all, irrespective of the value of the estate. That way, the heirs can transfer their ownership of the real estate property which belonged to a relative, without paying any inheritance tax at all.

* Christos Iliopoulos is an attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece.
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