Emergency Kit for German Inheritances

Getting in charge of a German inheritance, a share in a German inheritance or estate and any other benefit which you shall receive from a decedent’s German estate is tempting. We understand your trouble with this. Here is an Emergency Kit for the very start. Those contents cannot and shall not substitute a qualified legal assistance in Germany.

The following facts will help you with this situation and guide you in taking the necessary actions:


Make use of your own sources in order to learn to know more about the estate

If you have persons available whom you can ask what the facts and circumstances are, it will be very helpful to contact those persons in order to prepare any initial consultation.

Testamentary dispositions existing or intestate succession?

As it comes to cases of succession, it is always of largest importance to know if the decedent had executed any last will and testament or signed a (German law) inheritance contract, on the one hand, or if this is about an intestate succession on the other hand.

Contents of last will and testament or other testamentary dispositions

It is obvious that when you positively know that a last will and testament or any other testamentary disposition was executed by the decedent, learning to know about its contents is most relevant.

Practical Assistance in certain respects by an attorney-in-fact on site

It always makes sense to find out if someone had taken care for the decedent’s financial affairs and furthermore, if said person would be in a position to assist you, either. In some special constellations, such a person on site might be one possible counterpart.

Applicable inheritance law’s determination and interpretation of last will

The applicable substantial inheritance law’s determination (by a professional) is a very important first step on the way to understanding the last will and testament’s legal meaning.

Need to prove your position as a sole or a co-heir of the German estate

In order to prove your position as a (co-)heir in relation to German banks, the land registry office or other authorities or third parties in Germany, you will need a German certificate of inheritance or a German certificate of heirship (Erbschein).

Acceptance of appointment by a foreign court as an executor or an estate trustee?

With all regularity, any foreign court-document or certification like a letter’s testamentary or a grant of representation will not be accepted by German banks or authorities in order to proof a person´s position as an executor for a last will and testament.

Need to prove powers as an executor in Germany for assets in German estate

Your position as an executor of the last will and testament, in relation to the (assets in the) German estate, with all regularity needs to be proved with a so-called certificate of executorship or certificate of execution, which only a German probate court can issue.

The language in which German courts correspond, with all regularity is German

With all regularity, the exclusive language in which court procedures in Germany take place and also the respective correspondence is German, although single German probate courts are ready to correspond in English, either.

Initial consultation with a German attorney-at-law or certified inheritance lawyer

In the majority of cases of succession, a possible heir or beneficiary from abroad should seek an initial consultation by a German attorney-at-law or even better a German certified inheritance lawyer, so that he or she can tell you his preliminary impressions.

German inheritance tax-aspects are of large relevance for possible heirs

Dr. Marcus Hosser is a Certified German Tax Lawyer and can assist with inheritance taxes.

If you have questions, contact us via our contact form.

Difficulties with a German inheritance’s settling or administration and with inheritance taxes

Common examples of German assets in a decedent’s estate are German immovable property (real estate), a German bank account or a security deposit, or, in some cases, even shares in a German business company or in a German corporation.

Additional issues of importance are the coordination with the German inheritance tax office, potential applications for German inheritance tax purposes, and, even more important, the proper and timely fulfillment of your inheritance tax duties in Germany.

It might also become necessary to raise claims against other persons who participate in the decedent’s estate or who are in possession of certain assets from the estate, or even to take part in estate litigation procedures in Germany.

The defense against claims, e.g. from persons who believe themselves to have a compulsory portion (Pflichtteil) in the decedent’s estate, or from other creditors of the decedent, might also be of relevance for you. Professional assistance can help to avoid a rather costly law suit in Germany.

Watch our short video:

Orientation Guide for the Settling and Administration of an Estate in Germany

If you have questions, contact us via our contact form.


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We understand your very difficult and tempting situation because of the task of settling an estate or a share in an inheritance in a foreign country, namely here in Germany.

Regardless of whether you can speak and/or read German, you should seek professional assistance with the various procedures that usually become necessary in Germany. It is very difficult for a juristic lay-person to deal with the courts and authorities in Germany. With all regularity, this need for legal consultation and for advice about inheritance tax issues makes professional assistance strongly recommendable.

Hochhäuser - probate law germany

 Apart from the German inheritance law and inheritance tax law aspects, for most of our customers from abroad it is very important to have us on their side as experienced advisors, upon the recommendations of whom they can unrestrictedly rely.

Sometimes, the client`s awareness to have a partner here on site in Germany in his or her team makes it much easier to get through the often lengthy and partly stressful proceedings. We are experienced with counselling from a distance by means of legal advice in writing or often emails combined with calls or video calls.

Many of our law firm’s clients reside abroad and do not have the opportunity or ability to come to Germany in a timely manner to take care of the German inheritance and other matters. In many cases, our professional assistance can even make such a trip to Germany evitable.

If you have questions contact us via our contact form.

DR. HOSSER Rechtsanwalt

Bismarckstrasse 61
D-76133 Karlsruhe

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