Invalid testament

Invalid testament

Invalid testament – and its consequences

The other day in a case-file …

I read the following: „The testator left behind a computer-written testament which was signed by his own hand…“ And of course in the next sentence comes the conclusion: the testament is invalid

The consequence

The only result German inheritance law foresees for such a case is that the testament is invalid in total. It has no legal effect whatsoever.

Therefore the estate will be distributed as if there had never been any last will, a case of „intestacy“. 

Whether the heirs will feel themselves bound by the will the testator expressed in his/her invalid testament is absolutely up to them.

Some parties work here with a „moral obligation“ to respect the will by the testator. Particularly when the invalid testament favors them. 

Well, „moral obligation“ is not exactly my field of expertise. As a lawyer I can only say: The invalid testament has legally no binding effect. 

But we should also ask why German inheritance law has such rule – as in contrast to very many other jurisdictions. I suppose it is because a fully hand-written testament is very difficult to forfeit. A signature can be falsified and it can also be „smuggled“ under a piece of paper – be it empty or filled with a text. 

My clear advice: 

Don’t let yourself be influenced by an alleged „clear“ will of the testator that does not correspond with the requirements by the law. 

If yo need further advice, do not hesitate to contact me here.

Dr. Donat Ebert

Ügyvéd - Rechtsanwalt (HU, D)

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