What is a genealogist’s role in German law of succession?

What is a genealogist's role in German law of succession?

A genealogist might want to announce to you that you inherited in Germany

In German law of succession it happens more and more often that genealogists play an important role and try to find heirs of an estate in Germany. In Germany they are called „Erbenermittler“, „heir researcher“ or „heritage researcher“.

Their task is to find heirs abroad who in a case of intestacy inherited from a relative who died in Germany and left behind a – considerable – estate. In such cases it is necessary to find all heirs who might be widespread all over the world. 

Usually these people are historians or have a legal background. 

The challenge for these professionals is to find all heirs who are still alive, because only if their list ist complete can the estate be handed over to the persons entitled.

Trustworthy genealogist who might turn to you always work only on the basis of a contingency fee or a „success-based fee“. Never pay them a „retainer“ or give them any kind of advance payment!

The contingency fee is very considerable and usually amount up to a high percentage of your share. The usual quota is between 20 and 40 %. 

It is also worthwhile checking whether you yourself cannot validate your entitlement to your share of the estate. 

This might by tricky, because these professionals will never let on too much information concerning the concrete case, neither will they supply you with any proof of your link to the deceased person. So my advice is first turn to a competent German lawyer who will help you evaluate whether you really need the genealogist and on what price. The lawyer will be much cheaper and might save you from losing a large part of your share.

But if there is way around the support from the genealogist, it might be well-invested money – paid only after receiving what you inherited. Maybe from a long forgotten relative in Germany.

If you need any support in connection with a German genealogist or have any query concerning German law of succession, do not hesitate to contact us here.

Dr. Donat Ebert

Ügyvéd - Rechtsanwalt (HU, D)

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