The death of a family member, relative, friend, or loved one can be a painful experience. When the death happens overseas, family and friends in the homeland can feel additional distressed as they are unfamiliar with foreign procedures and probably are unable to communicate in the language of the country where the death took place. When a person dies in Turkey, that person is subject to the laws of Turkey. This can be important in circumstances where death resulted from an event caused by the deceased, such as through a car or boating accident. Depending on the nature of the accident, there may be civil liabilities. If such circumstances exist, you are recommended to contact reputable local legal counsels such as lawyers at Bicak. The first critical step is that you obtain a death certificate for your loved one as soon as possible. Without a death certificate, you will not be able to make important insurance claims or claims on property with beneficiary designations such as retirement accounts, or file probate if necessary. When a loved one dies abroad it can be difficult to know where to start. Bicak Law can assist family members and friends during this difficult time on the maters related to death.
Not only the death of loved one can be one of the most disorienting life events, but also if the loved one dies while traveling in a foreign country like Turkey, the emotional and bureaucratic burdens can multiply exponentially.
It is mandatory to report a death in Turkey
In the event of a death of a family member, friend or relative in Turkey, the first thing to do is to contact the local doctor who will certify the death and issue a death certificate (ölüm belgesi). The body is kept at a morgue until burial or repatriation. If the doctor who certifies the death is satisfied that no suspicious circumstances exist and the death was due to natural causes, no further inquiries are held.
If a death occurred in suspicious circumstances or is that of a stranger, it should be reported to the Police or the Gendermerai. The death certificate is then issued by the court.
The person reporting a death should include the deceased person’s name, date and place of birth, passport number, date and place of death, cause of death, and the location of the remains as well as the full name and phone number of the next of kin, if available.
Our lawyers will report the death to local Turkish authorities and attempt to contact the next of kin and relevant Embassy or Consulate immediately.
Registering the death and getting a death certificate
In Turkey, deaths are registered by the hospital, forensics unit or prosecutor. This depends on the circumstances in which the person died. The death will be registered at the local registry office (Nüfus Dairesi). You can get a death certificate (Formul C) from the registry office. You can also appoint a local lawyer to get the death certificate for you. The death certificate is in both Turkish and English. Death certificates issued in Turkey do not state the cause of death.
A death certificate can be issued by a hospital doctor, or a municipal doctor if the death did not occur at a hospital.
It must contain the following information:
- Relevant authority’s seal or signature
- Doctor’s name and surname
- Deceased’s name and surname
- Cause of death
- Date of death
- Date of issue of the death certificate
To register the death with local authorities, proof of identity of the deceased and the death certificate must be presented. A death certificate does not replace a burial permit. A deceased person cannot be buried without a burial permit.
Once a death certificate has been issued, it must be registered with the Population Registry Office (Nüfus Müdürlüğü) within a maximum of ten days. A full death certificate (Formul C) is then issued.
Once the death of a foreigner has been registered with the local authorities and a full Turkish death certificate (Formul C) is issued, it is possible to register the death at the deceased’s home country consulate. The death certificate must be officially translated into the language of the deceased person’s home country before registration can take place at a consulate. However, in some cases a multi-language version of the death certificate is issued by the local authorities.
Dealing with a local post-mortem
Post-mortems are usually performed when the cause of death is unknown, unnatural, sudden or violent. Post-mortems are carried out by Turkish doctors appointed by the court. Cultural or religious sensitivities may not be taken into account. During a post-mortem, small tissue samples and organs may be removed and retained for testing without the consent of the family.
The next of kin may choose to have the remains buried in Turkey, or embalmed and returned to the home country.
Burying the body in Turkey
A burial licence is required in order to be buried in Turkey, which is issued by a municipal doctor. Funeral parlours can assist with all necessary documents in order for a burial to take place. It is possible for non-Muslims to be buried in accordance with their religion. However, Turkish law does not allow for the cremation of human remains and there are no facilities for cremation in Turkey.
The cost of a local burial varies from one municipality to another, ranging from 1,000 USD for burial without embalming in a common grave, to 6,000 USD for burial with embalming in a private cemetery.
Repatriation of the Body / Bringing the body home
Repatriation is the process of bringing the body home. If the person who died had insurance, find out if their insurance provider can help cover the cost of repatriation. If so, they will make all the necessary arrangements. If the person who died is not covered by insurance, you will need to appoint an international funeral director yourself.
Repatriation of a body to the home country may require the help of the relevant local embassy or consulate. Consular officials can assist in having the remains returned, in obtaining appropriate documentation and in enquiring about Turkish exit requirements.
An application must be made to the Municipal Funeral Department (Belediye Cenaze Isleri) with an official transfer permit document from the consulate. The Municipal Funeral Department issues a travel permit document (yol izin belgesi) and burial licence (defin ruhsati) and seals the coffin. An export permit is then issued by a municipality doctor. A customs officer must then examine the coffin in the presence of a municipal doctor before issuing a customs certificate, and a laizzez passer certificate, allowing the deceased to be repatriated.
A certified English translation of the death certificate is also needed, if the death certificate is not multi-lingual.
Personal belongings found on the person who died at the time of death are handed to the police if the family is not present.
If you choose to repatriate, instruct the local lawyer to collect all personal belongings from the police or court and ship them together with the person who died.
If there is an investigation into the death, clothing may be retained as evidence and will not be returned until the court case is finished.
Our lawyers take responsibility for, or help with, the returning personal belongings to the family.
Donation of Bodies to Medical Science
In some areas of Turkey, there is the chance of donating your body to medical science after your death. There may be some restrictions to the donation of a body and certain medical conditions may lead to the offer being refused, it’s better if you want your body to be donated take into account to write a will after having valuable information about the rules in Turkey.
Dealing with their estate
We can provide assistance and advice irrelevant of whether the assets of the deceased’s estate are located in Turkey, another jurisdiction or if there are assets located in a number of different countries.
If the deceased has an asset or assets located in Turkey then it may be that a Power of Attorney needs producing, authorising one of our lawyers in Turkey where they died to deal with that property on behalf of the estate. It may also mean that specific advice with regard to the deceased’s domicile and Inheritance Tax position in Turkey where assets are located is required.
It can be a daunting and worrying process handling the death of somebody who has died abroad. Bicak has the expertise to be able to guide you through the process in all of the areas mentioned above and to provide comprehensive advice in relation to the various elements involved in dealing with a death in Turkey and the subsequent estate administration.
If you require legal advice in the private legal matters, including wills, probate and estate matters, please contact us.
When someone dies in Turkey, you cantact us. We will be able to advise and assist you with the registration of the death, and help you contact the local authorities who should also be notified of the death, in case any further investigations need to be conducted.
Comprehensive legal services
Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging experience, made even more complex when it occurs in a foreign country. When a foreigner passes away in Turkey, grieving family members are often confronted with a myriad of legal and bureaucratic procedures. In times of distress, having a compassionate and knowledgeable legal partner can be invaluable. This is where our law firm comes in, providing comprehensive legal services specifically tailored to assist with the intricate matters of death and dying of foreigners in Turkey.
- Understanding the Complexities: Dealing with the aftermath of a loved one’s passing is never easy, but navigating the legal system of a foreign country can add an additional layer of complexity. Our law firm recognizes the unique challenges faced by foreigners in Turkey during these difficult times. We have assembled a team of highly experienced and compassionate lawyers who specialize in handling death-related legal matters, ensuring that our clients receive the support and guidance they need.
- Repatriation Services: We understand the importance of returning the deceased to their home country with respect and dignity. Our firm works diligently to facilitate the repatriation process, liaising with relevant authorities, embassies, and consulates to ensure compliance with legal requirements.
- Estate Administration: Handling the estate of a deceased loved one can be overwhelming, especially when it involves multiple jurisdictions. Our knowledgeable lawyers assist clients with the proper administration of the deceased’s estate, including asset identification, evaluation, and distribution, while navigating the intricacies of Turkish inheritance laws.
- Probate and Succession: When a foreigner passes away in Turkey, understanding the local probate and succession laws becomes crucial. Our firm provides expert guidance in probate matters, ensuring the smooth transition of assets to the rightful beneficiaries, both domestically and internationally.
- Legal Documentation: We offer comprehensive support in preparing and reviewing legal documentation, including wills, powers of attorney, and other relevant documents. Our experienced lawyers ensure that these vital documents comply with Turkish legal requirements, providing peace of mind to our clients.
- Dispute Resolution: Unfortunately, disagreements can arise during the distribution of an estate. In such cases, our law firm provides skilled representation in dispute resolution, striving for amicable settlements while advocating for our clients’ best interests.
- Compassion and Professionalism: At our law firm, we recognize the importance of empathy and sensitivity when dealing with matters of death and dying. We strive to provide a safe and supportive environment for our clients, understanding the emotional toll such situations can have on individuals and families. Our team of legal professionals approaches each case with utmost compassion while maintaining the highest level of professionalism.
Losing a loved one is undoubtedly a challenging experience, particularly when it occurs in a foreign country like Turkey. Our law firm specializes in assisting foreigners during these difficult times, offering comprehensive legal services tailored to the specific requirements of death and dying matters. With our experienced team by your side, you can navigate the complexities of Turkish legal procedures with confidence and peace of mind. Contact our firm, and let us guide you through the legal landscape, providing the support you need during this difficult journey.