All Posts By

Bernhard Schmeilzl

German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance Law

German heirs are personally liable for all debts relating to deceased relatives

How to renounce the debts of your late relative As we have previously explained here German inheritance law applies the principle of universal succession (Gesamtrechtsnachfolge), which means that the heir (or a community of heirs if more than one person is designated as heir) directly steps into the shoes of a German decedent at the moment of that decedent’s death, under German estate and succession law. All rights and obligations are transferred automatically. There is…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 18, 2013
Conveyancing GermanyGerman Law

Template of German Land Sale & Purchase Agreement

Buying real estate in Germany When you wish to sell or buy a house or apartment in Germany the agreement must be signed before a German notary (see sections 873 and 925 German Civil Code) because the German Land Registry will only accept instructions from such notary (details). We have explained the legal procedure of conveyancing in Germany here.   The parties must be extremely careful that the notarial agreement does contain the entire understanding between…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 3, 2013
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax Law

UK Citizens with Property in Germany: Do I need a separate Will?

The Basics of British-German Inheritance Cases When a British expat lives in Germany for some time, he or she will most probably have a German bank account and other German assets, maybe even have bought property over here. The majority of these British expats have never thought about the inheritance law implications of such foreign assets. They simply assume that UK law applies. This is, however, not always the case. Especially if German probate law…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 1, 2013
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax Law

German Inheritance Tax Rates and Personal Tax Exempt Amounts

What is the German IHT Nil-Rate Band? German inheritance law, including inheritance tax law, works very differently from the UK system (for German probate see here and here). While in the UK the estate as such is taxed (with one single nil-rate band of currently 325k GBP being available as tax relief) you find a completely different inheritance tax concept in Germany: German tax authorities do not look at the estate but at the individual…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 1, 2013
Civil actionDebt collectionGerman LawGoing to court

Serving Documents in Germany

Find and and tackle your German debtor You need to serve court papers or other important legal documents to a person living in Germany? But you also expect this person may try to avoid getting served? Maybe you have already tried sending documents by courier and the addressee has not opened the door or the courier employee was not able to locate the debtor. Now what? Service by German Bailiff You will probably google for…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 20, 2013
Civil actionCriminal LawDebt collectionGerman LawGoing to court

Limitation under German Law

When do German claims become statute barred? Limitation periods (in German: Verjährungsfristen) impose time limits within which a party must bring a claim, or give notice of a claim to the other party. They are imposed by statute, primarily sections 194 to 218 German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB). The standard limitation period is three years (section 195 BGB), thus significantly shorter than limitation according to English law. For many constellations there are - of…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 19, 2013
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance Law

Intestacy Rules in Germany

Who inherits in Germany if there's no valid will? German inheritance law works by the principle of universal and direct succession, i.e. the heirs automatically become the owners and possessors of the entire estate, i.e. all assets that the deceased had owned (by the way: they also inherit all the debts of the deceased). Details are explained here. Now, what happens if German law applies and there is no last will? It's fairly easy: Spouses…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 6, 2013
Business in GermanyGerman Corporate LawStarting or Expanding BusinessTrustee & Escrow Services

Buying a German Company: A quick Checklist

How to acquire a German Business In case you think about buying or merging with an existing German enterprise there are many legal and tax aspects to consider (for the formation of a new Germany company see here). Below we have compiled a few issues from the perspective of a German lawyer that may be of interest for a potential buyer: What kind of legal entity is the target company? There are various legal forms…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
May 13, 2013
Conveyancing Germany

Legal Guide to buying a House or Apartment in Germany

Buying Real Estate in Germany as a Foreigner Compared with the UK and the USA, relatively few Germans own their own home. As Guardian recently titled: "Brits buy homes, Germans rent". To rent an apartment or even a house is much more common in Germany, especially since a tenant (lessee) is extremely well protected by German law. A landlord cannot simply terminate a residential rental agreement but must have legitimate cause (Sec 573 German Civil…