260 billion € will be inherited in Germany in 2017

260 billion € will be inherited in Germany in 2017

The German magazine „Der Spiegel“ recently published an article about the wealth that goes from generation to generation in Germany this year. Statistics calculate that  260 billion € will be inherited in Germany in 2017. An incredible amount of money. The article says it would be enough to finance all kindergartens, school and universities in Germany.

But no matter how impressive the number seems, inheriting is not only about money. It is about losing a person. Forever. The person might be a loved one, maybe hated, but always a human being. Leaving a hole, meaning a loss. 

And more often than not the inheritance case offers a lot of difficulties, emotional, psychological and legal.

And very often even over the open grave do the heirs  – would-be, potential or real – start fighting over the inheritance. Old wounds are opened, new ones are inflicted.

The articles by Der Spiegel does not even touch upon the difficulties heirs have in cross-border inheritance cases. This seems to be a field with little expertise, though it offers a lot of challenges – problems that are very special and usually go beyond what purely „national“ experts dispose of. And here we do not speak about language problems only. 

If you need an experienced expert for International Inheritance Law with whom you can communicate properly in English, you find our availabilities here

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt/Lawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

 

 

Inheritance case of Australian citizen in Germany

Inheritance case of Australian citizen in Germany

Here we can practically repeat what we said before about what happens with the inheritance case after the death of an American or Canadian citizen in Germany: 

If an Australian citizen dies in Germany, the decisive question as to which inheritance law to apply, is whether the testator (the Australian citizen in question) was a habitual resident to Germany. 

Since the EU Regulation No 650/2012 on – among others – applicable law in matters of inheritance entered into force on 17. August 2015 the general rule is that the Law of the State has to be applied in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of death, Article 21 of the Regulation. 

This general rule finds a „universal application“ with a maybe quite surprising result: 

It does not matter at all, which nationality the testator – the deceased – had, whether that was an „EU-European“ or „European, but NON-EU“, „EU – but not GB, Ireland and Denmark“ (these three countries do not take part in the application of the named regulation) or – as in our case: An Australian citizenship. 

German inheritance law will be applied universally to everyone who has his/her habitual residence in Germany. Of course the same is true for France: who has habitual residence in France will have French law applied to his/her estate, In Portugal its Portuguese law and so on. 

There is of course one exception: If the testator left behind a last will governing validly the law to be applied, then this law is relevant. 

If the Australian citizen was „just“ a tourist or on business in Germany, but had her/his habitual residence in Australia, then the law of inheritance of his/her home-state has to be applied.

Whether German inheritance law will be applied to the parts of the estate that are still in the Australia, if an Australian citizen with habitual residence in Germany died in Germany, cannot be decided here. This is not a matter of German or European law, it is to be decided by the foreign law. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you can pick up contact with us here. We support you in your case all over Germany – in English. 

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt – Lawyer (D)
office-ebert@email.de

Inheritance case of Canadian citizen in Germany

Inheritance case of Canadian citizen in Germany

If a Canadian citizen dies in Germany, the decisive question as to which inheritance law to apply, is whether the testator (the American citizen in question) was a habitual resident to Germany. 

Since the EU Regulation No 650/2012 on – among others – applicable law in matters of inheritance entered into force on 17. August 2015 the general rule is that the Law of the State has to be applied in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of death, Article 21 of the Regulation. 

This general rule finds a „universal application“ with a maybe quite surprising result: 

It does not matter at all, which nationality the testator – the deceased – had, whether that was an „EU-European“ or „European, but NON-EU“, „EU – but not GB, Ireland and Denmark“ (these three countries do not take part in the application of the named regulation) or – as in our case: A Canadian citizenship. 

German inheritance law will be applied universally to everyone who has his/her habitual residence in Germany. Of course the same is true for France: who has habitual residence in France will have French law applied to his/her estate, In Portugal its Portuguese law and so on. 

There is of course one exception: If the testator left behind a last will governing validly the law to be applied, then this law is relevant. 

If the Canadian citizen was „just“ a tourist or on business in Germany, but had her/his habitual residence in the USA, then the law of inheritance of his/her home-state has to be applied.

Whether German inheritance law will be applied to the parts of the estate that are still in Canada, if a Canadian citizen with habitual residence in Germany died in Germany, cannot be decided here. This is not a matter of German or European law, it is to be decided by the foreign law. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you can pick up contact with us here. We support you in your case all over Germany – in English. 

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt- Lawyer (D, HU)
office-ebert@email.de

 

Inheritance case of American citizen in Germany

Inheritance case of American citizen in Germany

If an American citizen dies in Germany, the decisive question as to which inheritance law to apply, is whether the testator (the American citizen in question) was a habitual resident to Germany. 

Since the EU Regulation No 650/2012 on – among others – applicable law in matters of inheritance entered into force on 17. August 2015 the general rule is that the Law of the State has to be applied in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of death, Article 21 of the Regulation. 

This general rule finds a „universal application“ with a maybe quite surprising result: 

It does not matter at all, which nationality the testator – the deceased – had, whether that was an „EU-European“ or „European, but NON-EU“, „EU – but not GB, Ireland and Denmark“ (these three countries do not take part in the application of the named regulation) or – as in our case: A US-American citizenship. 

German inheritance law will be applied universally to everyone who has his/her habitual residence in Germany. Of course the same is true for France: who has habitual residence in France will have French law applied to his/her estate, In Portugal its Portuguese law and so on. 

There is of course one exception: If the testator left behind a last will governing validly the law to be applied, then this law is relevant. 

If the American citizen was „just“ a tourist or on business in Germany, but had her/his habitual residence in the USA, then the law of inheritance of his/her home-state has to be applied.

Whether German inheritance law will be applied to the parts of the estate that are still in the USA, if an American citizen with habitual residence in Germany died in Germany, cannot be decided here. This is not a matter of German or European law, it is to be decided by the foreign law. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you can pick up contact with us here. We support you in your case all over Germany – in English. 

Dr. Donat Ebert
RechtsanwaltLawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

 

 

German testament – written with one´s own hand

German testament – written with one´s own hand

As I have written here on this website several times, a German private testament has to be handwritten. No word should be printed, not to speak about using samples from the internet, just print them and fill them in. Best way to write a totally invalid testament. 

A German private testament has to be hand-written, from A to Z, from the first letter to the last.

But not by anyone: it has to be written by the testator – with his/her own hand.

And the testator has to be „uninfluenced“ when writing. This is what the High Regional Court of Hamm decided in a judgement some years ago and which has been practice in German jurisdiction, before and ever since. 

In the case decided by the Court, the testator was being helped writing the testament, the hand was „led“ – because he was so fragile due to his old age, he would not master to write the full text by himself.

„Invalid testament“ was the ruling by the Court. The testator has to be totally independent in his/her writing. Any considerable help – apart from maybe holding the paper or passing the pen – makes the testament invalid.

But – might one say – what if the testator is so weak help is just needed otherwise there is not going to be a testament?

Then call a notary. When there is profound reason, a notary will come to the house, apartment or hospital of the respective person to put down the person´s last will. 

Don´t risk anything here – there is hardly anything as frustrating as a testament fully mirroring the last will of the testator, but invalid for formalities or avoidable mistakes.

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you find all our availabilities here. 

Német ügyvéd

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt (D) – Lawyer
office-ebert@email.de

Found a testament – act quickly!

Found a testament – act quickly!

If you have a situation that a person close to you deceased and you find a testament, you should act quickly.

Everyone who finds a last will has the obligation to deliver it to the competent authority dealing with the probate procedure. In Germany this is usually the probate court (in Baden-Württemberg in 2017 still it could also be the notary). 

But acting quickly is also necessary. Because it could be that there is another, older testament that is already with the court. And this could mean that this testament will be officially „opened“ by the court and delivered to the – alleged – heir. Who could then proceed with this testament. If it is erected before a notary, the other person could go to the bank, to the land registry and make use of it. 

This needs to be prevented. Otherwise you will be in the position to „run after your money“ – which might be difficult, expensive and under certain circumstances even in vain. 

So the moment you find a testament, you should contact a competent lawyer. You will give you precise advice as to what to do. Don´t waste time – you might have to regret it. 

If you need English-language support to your case, you find all contact details here

Dr. Donat Ebert
RechtsanwaltLawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

 

Testament lost – still valid

Testament lost – still valid

Usually if you refer to a testament favoring you and your position, you have to show the original.

But it can also happen that the original just cannot be found. German jurisdiction has stated several times that the mere fact that the original testament cannot be physically shown does not necessarily mean that the original was destroyed – and thus revoked. 

An original could have been put in a place that only the testator knows – some very „secret“ place  and later nobody will know about it. 

But obviously without the original it is very difficult to prove that the testament was formally valid for one thing, for another the content has to be proven.

Witnesses will be hardly enough for that. How would they be able to prove the exact wording of the testament?

If a testament was lost in its original, you will need a copy of it. A copy in good quality – which is necessary to make an expertise on the handwriting possible, if needed.

So if the original testament was lost, it does not mean that the whole case is lost. With a copy of the original you might have a fair chance for your cause. Without a copy, it is probably very hard case – but still not totally hopeless. In any case, you should contact an expert.

If you need support for your issue in English language, you find our availabilities here.

Német ügyvéd

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt – Lawyer (D)
office-ebert@email.de

Extract from land registry in Germany

Extract from land registry in Germany

There is a variety of constellations when need for an extract from land registry in Germany may arise: 

– Inheritance cases, when you need information about the estate.

– Execution of claims in Germany.

– Assessment of trustworthiness of a business partner. 

Unfortunately German law foresees quite restrictive rules concerning access to land registry.

You have to make plausible why you are entitled to get the information. The foundations of such „legal interest“ to get access to the extract from land registry has to be established by documents.

We will advise you as to how to get the information you need and – provided we meet the requirements – will also get then the necessary extract for you.

If you have such query, you may find our availabilities here

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt – Lawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

 

What is a legacy in German Inheritance law?

What is a legacy in German Inheritance law?

The German Civil Code defines as follows: 

„Section 1939
Legacy

The deceased may by will give a material benefit to another person without appointing the other person as heir (legacy).“ 

(quoted after the official translation of the German BGB by the Federal Ministry of Justice, to be found here.)

This means that the heir(s) are „burdened“ with the obligation to give something to the legatee as the testator stated in his/her testament. 

Hence there is obviously no legacy without a valid last will. 

The legacy can practically consist of any asset that belongs to the estate. The testator could for example state that his favorite car should be his best friend´s.

The legatee then has the right to claim to have the property right of this special item of the legacy  transferred to him.

In case of doubt the accessories of the item are also due to be transferred to the legatee.

The beneficiary of a legacy can of course both accept or refuse the legacy. This has to happen towards the heir(s).

In practice we very often find with the situation that the heirs do not inform the legatee, either because they do not want to or because the persons is difficult to find. This situation offers a lot of legal problems. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you can contact us here

Dr. Donat Ebert

Dr. Donat Ebert
Lawyer (D)
office-ebert@email.de

Expiration of European certificate of inheritance

Expiration of European certificate of inheritance

The European certificate of inheritance is only valid for a certain period of time, which is usually six months. 

If justified, the period can be longer. When asking for such certificate, we usually apply for a longer period. In our practice a year is usually granted.

After expiration of the period granted in the first copy of the certificate, the issuing authority can give a new copy with an extension of the period. With the new rules being in force only since 17 August 2015, we do not have experience with such application, but are optimistic that German probate courts will not put too many obstacles, considering that administering an estate abroad is often not a quick thing to do. 

Sometimes the certificate has to be used in several different countries when we need more copies and more time to solve all legal questions caused by the inheritance case. Unfortunately the certificate has to be translated into the languages of the countries at hand, which can be quite costly and also time-consuming. 

If you have an issue with a cross-border inheritance case, you can contact us here

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt- Lawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

 

 

 

 

 

Criteria for habitual residence in cross-border inheritance cases

Criteria for habitual residence in cross-border inheritance cases

The EU-Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession – Regulation No 650/2012 makes the „habitual residence“ of the testator the sole link to the question which law is to applied. 

But how to decide which is the „habitual residence“ – particularly if you have a testator traveling across Europe or even the whole world, having real estate, rented flats, house and so forth. 

Criteria for deciding this question can be:

– Length and regularity of the testator´s stay at a certain place.

– The conditions and circumstances in the context of this place.

– Centre of life from social and family aspects.

– Maybe supplementary: Nationality and place of his/her assets.

A minimum stay at a certain place is not required. 

As the regulation itself states, deciding this question might be quite „complex“. 

What is very interesting and important is that the regulation places social and family connections over professional or economic binds. 

You do not have to be a prophet to predict that a lot of legal cases will turn around the question of the „habitual residence“ of the testator, when two different legal systems get to very different results.
 
If you have an issue in German or International Inheritance Law, do not hesitate to contact us here

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt
Lawyer in D and HU
office-ebert@email.de

German probate court cannot force heirs to give address of other heirs

German probate court cannot force heirs to give address of other heirs

German probate courts are obliged to inform persons involved in an inheritance case – heirs, those entitled to compulsory share, legatees – about the fact of the death-case and to serve them the essential documents. These are for example the testament, the record of its opening.

But what if the court does not know the whereabouts of these individuals – which is often the case, when they live abroad and/or have not kept contact with the testator.

The persons known to the court, particularly the heirs, are obliged to serve these data. 

But what if they refuse to do so?

Unfortunately German law does not foresee the necessary instruments with the court to force those persons to give addresses and known data to the court.

Often heirs are reluctant to do so hoping the others will never get to know about the fact that they inherited.

This is why it is vital that if you are in such situation, you are proactive and involve a competent lawyer. S/he will report your involvement to the court and will give the German address of his/her office to the court. This is the easiest way for you to stay informed and make sure you get what is yours. 

If you are in such situation, we are happy to represent you all over Germany. You find all our availabilities here

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt – Lawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

Emergency will loses effect after 3 months

Emergency will loses effect after 3 months

In an article before we dealt with the conditions for a valid „emergency will“ in German inheritance law.

The aim of this instrument „emergency will“ is to get a valid testament, though the testator cannot write it himself/herself and officials in charge of certificating last wills are not available – due to the very acute danger of the testator´s near death.

With that in mind, it is only consequent, if German inheritance law says the „emergency will“ should lose its effect, if the testator survives the situation and gets into better health condition.

German law says this period is 3 months, during which the testator would have been able to erect a new testament. This period is suspended by the time when the testator is incapable of making a will before a notary. 

This means that in certain cases, periods of being in better conditions will be added up, even if interrupted by times of bad conditions, coma etc. This might be very difficult to prove and depends to a great deal on the records kept by the hospital. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you find all our availabilities here

Dr. Donat Ebert
RechtsanwaltLawyer (HU, D)
office-ebert@email.de

 

Emergency will in German inheritance law

Emergency will in German inheritance law

It is often through terrible accidents that people get into hospital and are faced with the situation that their death might be close. Then they want to quickly render a last will, but due to their bad health condition are not able to do so by themselves. 

In such or similar situations – when the mayor or a notary cannot be reached quickly – German inheritance law foresees the possibility of a so-called „emergency will“.

What are the conditions for a valid „emergency will“?

– Three witnesses have to be present.

Death of the testator is close or all three witnesses are convinced that this is the case.

All witnesses are present and listen to the declarations by the testator.

– They are responsible that the will of the testator is written down.

– They are present when the declarations by the testator are read to him/her and convince themselves that the testator approves of them. 

If one of those conditions is not met, the „emergency will“ is invalid and we have a case of intestacy. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you can reach us here or write an email: germanlawyer@email.de

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt – Lawyer 
office-ebert@email.de

 

 

Inventory about the estate in German inheritance law

Inventory about the estate in German inheritance law

As explained in an article before, there is a strong right to get information from the heirs, if you are entitled to a compulsory share. 

Upon your demand the heirs are obliged to give you an inventory of the estate.

But maybe there is reason to deeply mistrust the heirs – or they have given an inventory, but you do not find this very profound, trustworthy.

Then you can also ask – as a second step, but also right from the start – that the inventory should be given by a notary.

Notaries are in Germany (as probably in most countries where you find them) obliged to be neutral and they enjoy a great deal of trustworthiness. Usually they do not want to put that at stake which means that their inventories have high credibility.

Inventories put together by notaries take quite some time, but this waiting period is well invested, since it has a great deal more reliability than an inventory done by a private person. 

If you have an issue in German inheritance law, you can pick up contact with us here

Dr. Donat Ebert
Rechtsanwalt
Lawyer in D and HU
office-ebert@email.de