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Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group
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Trusted in the U.S. Trusted in Greece. The Law Firm of Choice for Greek Americans for More Than 25 Years.
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Handling an International US-Greek Inheritance Matter

Step 1: Assemble and identify all US or Greek Wills, Death Certificates, and information on assets, deeds, etc...

Step 2: Contact me to schedule a free initial consultation (we can do it in Greek or English). At such time, I will provide you with a general plan and overview of what needs to be done.

Step 3: After our discussion about the case, you can decide if you wish to retain us to follow the steps I will have outlined for you, which need to be taken in the US and Greece. If we are retained, we generally handle all matters required both in the US and Greece - without you or your family having to travel to Greece.

Step 4: Depending on where the descendant has passed away; where the descendant was domiciled; where the assets are; the type of assets and countries of their location; the existence of either a US or Greek Will (or both); and/or location of all the heirs - we will advise you where (Greece or US) the estate will be probated. We will also advise you specifically what US or Greek Court; IRS and/or - Greek Tax Authority; and Deed Recorder and/or Greek Ypothikofilakio or Ktimatologio we will file the documents.

Step 5: We will advise you of US and Greek taxes and tax issues - including Greek income, real estate tax and any relevant foreign tax credit or US-Greece Treaty issues. Generally, a Greek title search will be done to identify the status of the title and any liens or title problems. Relevant forms such as E1 and E9 will be filed as well as ENFIA or other Greek property tax registrations needed.

Step 6: Final copies of all recorded official documents will be presented along with copies of all documented transactions and explanation of all questions you may have.

Step 7: We can subsequently assist you fully with listing, sale, development or legal issues related to ongoing rental, tax compliance, and tenant issues with regard to your inherited property.

WHAT HAPPENS IN A US-GREECE DIVORCE?

Step 1: Contact the firm for a consultation. We will discuss whether you can reach an uncontested agreement, (on any/all issues) which we can draft to be enforceable in the US and Greece.

Step 2: If no friendly or amicable agreement of separation/divorce can be reached then we will need to decide which law applies to the divorce issues: i.e. the divorce declaration; property distribution; custody of children; alimony and child support. In addition to which law applies we must consider where (in which country's courts) the divorce and related proceedings must be filed.

Step 3: We must then analyze your rights and possible claims for such issues and whether these rights and claims can be, or will be enforced in both countries. Initial critical questions (that can only be determined by attorneys' well reviewed and greatly experienced in US and Greek law) is:

  1. Which court (US or Greece) should the case be filed in?
  2. What law applies (US or Greek)? and
  3. To what part of the case: Divorce, custody, equitable distribution, child support does each country's law apply?

For example, it is possible that a divorce legal proceeding must be brought in the US Courts but that Greek law will apply. Greek law for "marital assets" distribution is very different from most States/US law, so that Greek law expert testimony will be needed in the US Court. Also any US custody or support agreement must be recognizable in Greece. It is also very important to have effective US (or Greek) custody and visitation agreements so that they are recognized in both countries. When these don't exist, however, (because parties did not obtain both expert US and Greek legal consultation) we have been involved in numerous Hague anti-child abduction cases - seeking to return children taken from the US to Greece, for example, without a parent's consent. Very often we are also asked to conduct title searches and valuations in Greece for US divorce proceedings - because many spouses will misrepresent or omit these assets from US Court litigation discovery or disclosure.

We have been very effective testifying as experts in US divorce court litigation (working with US spouse's divorce counsel) as to Greek record assets, have accounts and their valuation. In addition, we can identify fraudulent transfers of assets in Greece (to avoid them becoming marital property); and/or misrepresentations about inheritances in Greece to avoid such assets being considered in the divorce or equitable distribution.

CAUTION TO ANYONE BUYING REAL ESTATE IN GREECE

This requires extensive caution and care and especially needs the retaining of experienced and trusted US-Greek legal counsel. (Please do not simply trust the realtor, builder or "cousin" in Greece who may be interested only in making a sale - for whatever reason).We have been handling US-Greece real estate purchases and deals for over 25 years - involving transactions from $10,000 to $100 million dollars.

This is what we are most concerned about - and you should be too: Unlike the US, Greece does not have "title insurance". We know the value and importance of title insurance since in the US (PA) we have represented and operated title insurance companies for over 25 years. Title insurance insures and protect you if your deed/title to the real estate you bought is defective or invalid or if there are liens on the title etc... With regard to purchase of Greek real estate, it is only a detailed and careful title search in the Greek Recorders (Ypothikofilakio-Ktimatologio offices) (done on site) that can protect you. This is what we do and we do it carefully going back over 100 years; and we explain our results to you in English. This is the only way you can know if you are buying that Greek apt./store or beach house safely or whether you are buying a lawsuit from relatives other descendants and neighbors or even the local city or town who may actually own or have claims to what you bought.

The purchase of real estate in Greece also requires numerous tax clearances; zoning clearances (afthereta); registrations (E1 and E9) and tax representative authorization and filings for the new Greek real estate tax (ENFIA). Most important, however, is that you should never give money to a Greek seller until experienced and trusted legal counsel (yours alone - not the owners controlled or suggested by the seller/or realtor "to save money") has conducted due diligence and prepared the proper contracts. In addition, Greek property may be regulated by Archeological, environmental or "forest" regulations - which can prevent you from building. Unlike the US, litigation in Greece can take 8-10 years.

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Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group
Phone: 610-628-1336
Toll Free: 877-509-4333
Fax: 610-691-8418

U.S. Offices:
20 East Broad Street 
Bethlehem, PA 18018
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New Jersey
1015 New Durham Road
Edison, NJ 08817
(By appointment only)
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Greece Offices:
18 Valaoritou Street
4th Floor
Athens, 10671
Greece
(By appointment only)
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10 Ermou Street
Thessaloniki, 54625
Greece
(By appointment only)
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Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group