Probate and estate litigation in Germany can sometimes be quite complicated and burdensome for all involved parties. Certainly, the death of a loved one represents a difficult time for all concerned, but it is even more complicated when the probate and estate proceedings are to take place in another country. If you require assistance in a German probate and estate matter, Jackson Law International’s attorneys in Germany have the experience and can stand by your side during such difficult times.
The foundation of German inheritance law.
In Germany, Inheritance Law is constitutionally codified in Article 14 (1) of the Basic Constitutional Law (GG) and guarantees the right of inheritance.
The German Law of Inheritance Law is a comprehensive area of law. It combines all rules and regulations concerning the transfer of rights and obligations or the estate of a deceased person to another person, the inheritor or inheritress.
The law of succession can be divided as follows:
- Succession (§§ 1922 – 1941 BGB),
- Legal status of the inheritor (§§ 1942 – 2063 BGB),
- Testament (§§ 2064 – 2273 BGB),
- Inheritance contract (§§ 2274 – 2302 BGB),
- Statutory share (§§ 2303 – 2338 BGB),
- Unworthiness to inherit (§§ 2339 – 2345 BGB),
- Renunciation of inheritance (§§ 2346 – 2352 BGB),
- Certificate of inheritance (§§ 2353 – 2370 BGB) and
- Purchase of an accrued inheritance (§§ 2371 – 2385 BGB).
What are the basics of German probate and estate litigation?
Probate and estate litigation cases usually only arise upon the death of a relative (“case of succession”). In the case of succession, the estate of the deceased (“testator”) transfers the estate to the inheritor or inheritress (“universal succession”). The term “estate” refers to the legacy of the deceased in its entirety.
The heirs (“community of heirs”) enter into all legal relationships established by the deceased during his or her lifetime.
The estate includes all assets consisting of cash or capital assets, real estate, private property such as documents, art, and collections. However, debts may also be included.
The heirs are determined by the deceased either by disposition on death (testament, contract of inheritance) (“testamentary succession”) or, in the absence of such a provision, by law (“legal succession”).
Legal succession is determined by the relationship between the relatives. The relative next in line (children, grandchildren, etc.) will always inherit. The surviving spouse inherits a quarter of the estate alongside the children of the deceased. If the spouses lived pursuant to what is described in Germany as the matrimonial property regime of “community of accrued gains,” the surviving partner receives a further quarter of the inheritance as a “lump sum compensation for gains.”
Heirs can also refuse to accept the inheritance and the rights and obligations associated with it (e.g. by waiver or renunciation of the inheritance) or may take action against the testamentary succession (e.g. by contesting the succession or by claiming unworthiness to inherit).
Probate and estate litigation in Germany can also arise in advance of an inheritance. This may occur in the preparation of the testament, inheritance contracts and related matters.
Experienced Attorneys in Germany.
Jackson Law International is pleased to present its German attorneys, who are admitted to practice law in that country and who allow us to provide a pleasant, competent, and trustworthy international collaborative representation of our clients where borders play no role. We are familiar with probate and estate litigation in Germany and, due to our experience in dealing with such matters, have particularized knowledge and contacts in and concerning the German legal system.
We encourage you to contact our firm to discuss your options regarding your matter.