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Wills and Succession Planning

German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

Is there a Residential Nil Rate Band in Germany?

Yes, but only if the decedent was resident in Germany or a EU-member state Under German inheritance tax law (Erbschaftsteuer), the beneficiaries may claim an additional German tax relief for property of the deceased used as the family home (Familienheim), if the deceased gives said property to offspring (children or grandchildren), see section 13 para. 1 nr. 4 German Inheritance and Gift Tax Act (link). However, this additional German inheritance tax relief is only available,…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
December 4, 2023
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawInternational ProbateProperty in GermanyWills and Succession Planning

How to mitigate German inheritance tax

Checklist for UK testators who own assets in Germany If someone who is domiciled in England, Wales or Scotland owns assets in Germany, they need to be aware of the fact that the German tax authorities (Finanzamt) may levy tax on these German assets or - in the worst case scenario - on the testator's entire global estate (in additon to HMRC taxing that same estate as well). Summary of German inheritance tax rules for…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
November 3, 2023
Family LawGerman LawWills and Succession Planning

How to Appoint a Legal Guardian for my Child in Germany

Can parents decide who shall be the legal guardian of their children? Yes, under German family law rules, they certainly can and should in fact do so. The German buzzword for this is "Vormundschaftsanordnung", meaning "provident appointment of a legal guardian for a minor". Guardianship is regulated in sections 1773 to 1895 German Civil Code. The most relevant statute for the topic discussed here is section 1776 German Civil Code, which states: Right of the…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 9, 2022
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

Sell Your Share in a German Estate — Even Before Probate

Renouncing the Inheritance Against Fair Financial Compensation If you have inherited in Germany but are not the only beneficiary, you may get tied up in the administration of such a German estate for years, because under German succession law, there is no personal representative (i.e. executor or administrator). Instead, the co-heirs (Miterben) deal with the estate themselves. Such a community of beneficiaries is called "Erbengemeinschaft". The practical problem: They have to work together and most…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
October 28, 2020
Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawWills and Succession Planning

Overseas Inheritance? See My Answers to FAQs on Probate in Germany and England

Watch this Video by Cross Border Probate Expert Bernhard Schmeilzl, Esq. Overseas probate law expert Bernhard Schmeilzl has 20 years of experience dealing with international estate matters between the USA and Europe. He runs the leading blogs www.internationalprobatelaw.com and www.crosschannellawyers.com which provide practical information on how to obtain foreign probate and how to win contentious probate litigation in Europe. In this video, Bernhard answers the 24 questions on German and British probate that are most…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 27, 2019
German Succession & Inheritance LawWills and Succession Planning

The Number One Blunder made by English Wills & Probate Solicitors

What English Solicitors (and U.S. lawyers) tend to overlook when preparing Wills for overseas Clients We see cases like this all the time: A British (or American) expat lives in Germany for a few years and unexpectedly passes away while having his or her permanent residence in Germany. A British (or American) family moves to Germany permanently but keeps their English wills in place. Or they ask their English solicitor to prepare a new will…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
January 23, 2019
European ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateLitigation in GermanyWills and Succession Planning

How to speed up German Probate Applications

Avoid Common Mistakes in your Application for a German Grant of Probate (Erbschein) The basics of the German non-contentious probate procedure are explained in the post How to apply for German Probate. There you can also find an example of what a genuine German grant, i.e. the “Erbschein” (certificate of inheritance) looks like. For those who want to dig deeper and get really technical about German probate, we now examine the central statutes of German…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
October 26, 2018
Austrian ProbateGerman LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

German Probate: What to do if a beneficiary (co-heir) cannot be found?

Does anyone know where Great-Granduncle Fritz lives? In some probate cases (Nachlassverfahren), especially if a decedent had no children, no surviving spouse and no surviving siblings, the next of kin cannot be located, either because the relevant persons have died so long ago that the closest living relatives of the testator can’t be identified (e.g. died in the war) or because they have moved to another country and nobody knows their whereabouts. Even if only…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 7, 2018
German LawGerman ProbateInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

Does anyone know about Great-Granduncle Fritz?

What to do in Germany when an Heir (Beneficiary) cannot be found In Germany, due to the principle of universal succession (which is governed by  §§ 1922, 1937 BGB of the German Civil Code), it is the heir´s duty to look after the estate. Under German inheritance law, there is no personal representative to take possession of the estate. The German Probate Court (“Nachlassgericht”) will also not interfere with the administration of the estate. The…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 23, 2018
German LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawWills and Succession Planning

If your Parent or Child passes away while having been resident in Germany…

... then German Succession Rules do apply to the Estate! Since August 2015, all EU members (except for UK, Ireland and Denmark) apply the same basic rule: The national succession laws of that country shall apply in which the decedent had his or her last habitual residence (EU Succession Regulation, EU 650/2012). Thus, if your parent or your child has been permanently living in - for instance - Germany, France or Spain and sadly dies…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
March 6, 2018