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Wills (Testmenti)

A will in Malta is predominantly made before a notary. We publish wills and advise on the different rules that one must bear in mind when planning one’s inheritance to ensure the smoothest and cheapest transition of one’s assets to his loved ones.

A will is a legal instrument through which a person leaves legally binding instructions as to how his assets are to be disposed of after his death. Wills may be either public or secret.

A public will must always be received by a notary public in the presence of two witnesses and enrolled in the Public Registry. A public will’s contents remain secret until the death of the testator (the person who made the will). However, third parties may know that an individual has made a will even during the latter’s lifetime.

A secret will is deposited in the Court Registry and may only be opened after the testator’s death and by the authorization of the Court in the presence of all interested parties who are notified by means of a court notice. During one’s lifetime, third parties have no means of knowing that a secret will has been made. The contents of a secret will may even be kept hidden from the notary and the witnesses.

Married couples may opt for an unica charta (joint) will.

What happens if a person dies intestate?

In this case, the person’s estate will devolve upon his heirs-at-law according the laws of the intestate succession. The law recognises certain family members as being the next of kin entitled to inherit the deceased’s property.

A court application (rikors) will have to filed before the Civil Court (Voluntary Jurisdiction Section) by the persons demanding the opening of succession in their favour. A notice of this application is published in the Malta Government Gazette and in at least one commercial newspaper. This will enable anyone who has a claim to that succession to come forward in the period indicated in this notice. Following this, a Court decree will be issued declaring the succession open in favour of the heirs-at-law.

Our Service & Commitment at James Grech & Associates – Notaries Public:

  • Advice on the legal restrictions of disposing of one’s property after death
  • Advice on the legal and fiscal implications of certain testamentary dispositions
  • Drawing up of wills expressing precisely the testator’s wishes
  • Complete confidentiality throughout the process
  • Registration of wills within the time-limits stipulated by law

Contact us for more information or to make an appointment in relation to the drawing up of a will.

Frequently Asked Questions

My husband and I have two children. Can we leave everything to one another in our will or is there is a share to which our children are entitled?

Yes, it is possible to nominate each others as sole heirs. This will give the surviving spouse absolute power over the disposal of any assets belonging to the pre-deceased spouse without the need to obtain the children’s consent for any sale, capital withdrawal etc. Nevertheless, the children may demand the reserved portion due to them by law after the death of the first parent. The reserved portion amounts to one-third of all the deceased’s estate if the children are less than five in number, and to one-half of all the deceased’s estate if the children are five or more in number.

I have been co-habiting with my partner for the past 18 years. Can we enter into an unica charta will together?

No. An unica charta will may only be made by a married couple. The best solution would be to enter into two separate wills which provide mirror dispositions.

I have been living in my aunt’s house with my wife and children for the past 15 years. The house belongs entirely to my aunt and she also resides with us. Do I have the right to continue residing in the house after her death?

The law does not grant you an automatic right to continue residing in the house after her death on account of the fact that you’ve been living there for a significantly long time. You will only be entitled to continue residing there in one of these circumstances:

  • your aunt nominates you as her sole heir in her will; or
  • your aunt expressly provides in her will that she is bequeathing to you the right of habitation or the right of usufruct over the property; or
  • your aunt dies intestate and you are the next of kin according to the laws of the intestate succession.

In the absence of one of the above the scenarios, the heir/s will have the right to take possession of the property. Even if you are one of the heirs and there is no specific mention of a right of habitation/usufruct, then the other heirs may legitimately object to your continued possession of the property.

Are you looking for our advice?

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