Emergency Kit on German Inheritances
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
Testamentary dispositions existing or intestate succession?
Contents of last will and testament or other testamentary dispositions
Practical Assistance in certain respects by an attorney-in-fact on site
Applicable inheritance law’s determination and interpretation of last will
Need to prove your position as a sole or a co-heir of the German estate
Acceptance of appointment by a foreign court as an executor or an estate trustee?
Need to prove powers as an executor in Germany for assets in German estate
The language in which German courts correspond, with all regularity is German
Initial consultation with a German attorney-at-law or certified inheritance lawyer
German inheritance tax-aspects are of large relevance for possible heirs
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
We understand your very difficult and tempting situation. On top of the grief and the hard time which you most likely have after the decedent’s passing away, you have 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: Correspondence with third parties in Germany (e. g. banks) or German authorities, the German probate court and – if necessary – even an application for a German official certification by means of which you can prove your position as the decedent’s heir (i. e. an Erbschein) or as the executor under the last will.
Even for native speakers who reside in Germany and for cases of succession without any connections with a foreign country, it is very difficult for a juristic lay-person to deal with the courts and authorities in Germany. Furthermore, especially the various Anglo-American systems for an estate´s settlement, e. g. those in the U. S., in Canada and in Great Britain are completely different from the one pursuant to German laws.
The legal situation for possible special legacies for your benefit is slightly different, but nevertheless complicated and you should also be fully aware of your rights and duties as a legatee.
With all regularity, this need for legal consultation makes professional assistance advisable, either.
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 rely.
Our long-term (international) experience with an estate or share in and inheritance’s settlement, also in foreign countries, is always a benefit for our customers, although we cannot lead such procedures abroad on our own.
In many cases, this experience with international successions allows us to explain the legal situation and the recommended next steps by making reference to the different, but in a broader sense often still comparable legal situation in the customer`s country.
Sometimes, the client`s knowledge 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 our customers from a distance by means of legal advise in writing, often emails combined with calls or video calls in order to discuss any upcoming questions.
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 that evitable.
For our clients from abroad, we offer conference calls or even video calls (no special technical equipment on your side needed). Those technical opportunities in combination with email correspondence allow us to stay in close contact with our clients from foreign countries.