Inheritance Tax in Malta

Inheritance in Malta

Updated on Thursday 04th March 2021

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Inheritance-in-Malta.jpgInheritance is the procedure through which a person receives various assets that belonged to a deceased person, who were stipulated in a will. Such assets are passed forward to successors and to each person/s is/are who is/are entitled to inherit. Although the procedure comes into effect at a sensible moment in life, several legal aspects have to be undertaken. We recommend you to get legal advice from a law firm in Malta. With a deep knowledge in various civil matters, our Maltese lawyers can help local and foreign citizens in inheritance matters.

Inheritance regulations in Malta

The main law providing for inheritance in Malta is the Civil Code under which succession can be disposed based on a will or the lack of will. There are several ways in which the disposal of assets and various goods can take place after a person’s death. These are:
  • Through a will, case in which several conditions must be met, among which the validity of the will is essential.
  • Through a secret will which is recorded with a court of law in Malta by the testator or one of the witnesses.
  • Trusts and foundations are also means through which succession can be ensured by a person;
  • Without a will, case in which intestate succession will be completed in accordance with the law.


No matter the case in which an inheritance is left to successors, you can rely on our lawyers in Malta can guide on how to draft a will.

Types of wills in Malta

The most common way of disposing of one’s assets after death is by will. Both nationals and foreign citizens who have relocated to Malta can take advantage of the laws of this country and draw up testaments through which they can leave their belongings to successors. The following types of testaments are acknowledged in Malta:


  • Ordinary or common wills which can be public or secret, as seen above.
  • Unica charta wills or joint testaments left by a husband and wife together.
  • Privileged wills which can be drafted under extraordinary circumstances.
  • Wills made at sea are also acknowledged by the Maltese legislation and are quite common in this country.
  • A will drafted outside Malta by Maltese citizens can be enforced here.


It is important to know that the person drafting the will must comply with a few criteria, among which:
  1. He or she must have full mental capacity at the moment the testament is drafted.
  2. The individual must have reached the legal age of 18, however, younger persons can also draft wills as long as they may give financial dispositions.
  3. The individual must have at least two witnesses at the moment the will is written.
  4. The testator can be a foreign person, as there is no limitation in this sense; the will be valid in Malta.


Our Maltese lawyers can advise and help local and foreign citizens who need help in preparing their wills. They can also grant a power of attorney when it comes to the enforcement of certain rights mentioned in a will.


Intestate succession in Malta


Intestate succession is possible under one or more of the following situations:
  • A person has not left any testament.
  • The will left by a person is not valid.
  • If the testator has not made provisions about all his/her assets.
  • If the heirs do not want to accept the inheritance.
  • If one or more heirs are unable or lack the capacity of receiving an inheritance.


In the case of intestate inheritance, the division of property will follow specific regulations depending on the heirs. Our lawyers in Malta can explain how the rules of intestate inheritance apply. The same team can offer details about the succession tax in Malta.

Inheritance procedure in Malta

After the opening of the will, the successors to the inheritance have to follow specific steps in order to legally receive the ownership of the assets stipulated in the document. If the deceased did not leave a will, the successors are the closest relatives. Our Maltese lawyers can offer you details on how the inheritance will be distributed, in the situation in which there is no written testament. The notary will hand in the testament in the moment when the death certificate is issued. In case of inheriting immovable properties, the successors must hire an architect to prepare an evaluation of the buildings. After the evaluation is done, the successor must pay a 5% transfer tax from the evaluation price of the building. If the successor is the life partner of the deceased, he or she must pay, at the transfer of ownership, a 5% tax on half of the evaluation price. 

Descendants in inheritance cases in Malta

Under the Civil Law, the heirs to an estate in Malta can be the children, the spouse and the other close or distant relatives of the deceased. Unless a will has been drafted, the estate must be divided among the survivor heirs as follows:
  1. in the case of maximum four children, each heir will receive one-third of the assets divided in equal shares;
  2. in the case of more than five children, each heir will receive a half of the estate divided in equal shares;
  3. the spouse (if still alive) will be entitled to one-fourth of the entire estate of the deceased;
  4. the remaining share of the estate will be divided among the other living heirs of the deceased.


In order to enter the possession of their right of estate, the heirs must first accept it. This is done with the public notary who has certified the will or the lawyer of the family. Our attorneys in Malta can advise in matters related to the inheritance rights of heirs in Malta

No will – inheritance procedure 

Not all citizens leave a will after their death. In this case, the Maltese law states that first in line as successors are the children. If the couple did not have children, the inheritance will be given to the surviving spouse. If there are children and a surviving spouse, the belongings of the deceased will be equally shared between the above mentioned. Our lawyers in Malta can provide you with information on how the inheritance may be distributed, according to the family structure of the deceased. 
Inheritance procedures opened from 17 August 2015 on, are solved under the Cross Border Succession Law, applicable to persons with more than two nationalities. When deciding to write a will, they can choose the succession law from any of the countries whose nationality they possess. 

Inheritance tax in Malta

According to the Maltese laws, there are no inheritance taxes in this country. Considering an inheritance can also take the form of a donation, it is also useful to know that there is no gift tax in Malta either. The only ley imposed is the transfer duty which must be paid by the heir. The rate of this levy is 5% of the value of the inherited estate. In case you need assistance in drafting a will, our Maltese law firm is at your disposal with full information on the legislation in this sense. We can also help foreign citizens who want to have their wills drafted in Malta.

Foreigners and wills in Malta

Foreigners intending to draft a will in Malta are suggested to get in touch with our Maltese lawyers and benefit from comprehensive legal advice and assistance in this matter. Public or secret wills are available in Malta. While the public wills can be drawn up in the presence of witnesses in front of a notary, the secret one is drafted by the testator and then deposited with a notary in Malta. There is also the possibility of registering the will in the court of law of voluntary jurisdiction, in the presence of a magistrate. It should be noted that a will can be prepared by both spouses at the same time if they want to dispose of their common assets mentioned by the same document. In any case, foreigners in Malta need to comply with the applicable laws and especially the Inheritance Law in Malta.

Is a will made in a foreign country available in Malta?

Yes, a will registered in a country different from Malta can be available here and should respect the form specified by the law of the country where it was rendered. The rules concerning the retained portion are deemed to be public policy, and hence, any outlooks that are contrary to such regulations included in a will made outside Malta will not be effective in Malta, if such a will is contested by a family member. All you need to know about the Inheritance Law Malta and about succession tax Malta can be discussed with our Maltese lawyers.

Cases in which there is no will

If a deceased person has no will, the provisions of the Maltese Civil Code referring to property distribution applies. In this direction, properties owned in Malta will be distributed in accordance with the intestate succession rules. The assets will be equally distributed to the spouse and children who survived the deceased. Moreover, if there are no children and spouse, the properties will be distributed to ascendants. You should talk to our attorneys in Malta and find out more about the inheritance tax in Malta and see how our specialists can help you.

Purchasing a property in Malta

The process of purchasing a property in  Malta is relatively straightforward for both local and foreign citizens, respecting the agreements in this sense. It is quite recommended to ask for real estate due diligence and make some verifications of the sale-purchase contract before making a payment. Our Maltese lawyers can help citizens interested in buying a property in Malta and can also provide support for mentioning such assets in a will. Here are some facts and figures about properties in Malta:
  1. More than 1,300 property reservation contracts have been registered in Malta in August 2020, worth nearly EUR 300 million.
  2. A total of 1,600 property reservation agreements in Malta have been registered during the summer of 2020.
  3. The threshold amount for entering the Citizenship by Investment Programme in Malta increased from EUR 350,000 to EUR 700,000, in 2020.

FAQ about Inheritance Law in Malta

1. How is the disposal of assets made in Malta after a person’s death?
A will normally comprises information about the distribution of properties in the family. However, the disposal of assets can also be done without a will, respecting the succession stipulated by the legislation.
2. How many types of wills are accepted in Malta?
Common wills, joint spouse wills, foreign wills, and privileged wills are among the testaments accepted in Malta. More about the inheritance rights of heirs in Malta can be discussed with our Maltese attorneys.
3. Should I hire the legal services of a lawyer in Malta for drafting a will?
It is quite recommended to have the support of a Maltese lawyer specialized in inheritance in Malta. Such an expert knows the Inheritance Law in Malta and can provide the necessary legal advice and assistance in this direction. More about succession tax in Malta can be found if you get in touch with our advisors.
4. What is the inheritance tax in Malta?
At the moment, the inheritance tax in Malta is set at 5% of the value of the property inherited by will. Our lawyers in Malta can tell you more about the succession tax in Malta.
5. How is the asset distribution made without a will?
There is no obligation to draw up a will in Malta or anywhere else in the world, so many properties are distributed after a person’s death, with respect to the applicable laws. The surviving spouse and children are first in the line of succession. We invite you to find out all the details about the inheritance rights of heirs in Malta from our specialists.
If you need legal advice on inheritance procedures in Malta, our Maltese law firm can help you throughout the process. Please contact our attorneys in Malta, who can offer you consultations on this matter.