All Posts By

Bernhard Schmeilzl

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 ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

Entangled in German Probate Proceedings?

Renounce Inheritance against Compensation Payment In this post, we reveal a simple trick how to be released from the duties and obligations of being a German co-heir while still obtaining a portion of the German estate. The buzzwords are "Verpflichtung zur Ausschlagung gegen Abfindung", i.e. contract to renounce a German inheritance against compensatory payment (make-up pay). Background: The Basics of German Probate and Estate Administration In previous posts, we have explained German succession rules, the…
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 ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

Indebted Estate: How to avoid inheriting your German Relatives’ Debts

Make sure to renounce (disclaim) an Inheritance from Germany if you fear that the Decedent had severe Debts For English lawyers it is a rather shocking concept: The relatives of a deceased person or the beneficiaries mentioned in a Will can be fully personally liable for the debts of the deceased. Without any limitation.For details see here. Hard to understand from the perspective of Common Law jurisdictions, but this is exactly what the German legal…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 3, 2018
Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian ProbateGerman ProbateInternational Probate

Austrian Probate: How to Access Assets in Austria?

British Testator owned a Bank Account in Austria: Will an English Grant be accepted in Austria? No, unfortunately, it will not. If a British person who owns assets in Austria dies, the personal representative needs to obtain a separate Austrian grant of probate. The English grant is rather worthless in Austria, just as an Austrian (or German or French etc) grant of probate is not being accepted within the United Kingdom, because the UK has…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 2, 2018
Business in GermanyCivil actionGerman Corporate LawGerman Tort LawStarting BusinessStarting or Expanding Business

Director’s Duties and Liabilities under German Law

What are the Duties of Directors of German Companies (GmbH) and Corporations (Aktiengesellschaft)? Obviously, pretty much all over the world, company directors and CEO’s have a general duty to be loyal, diligent and conscientious in managing the affairs of their company. This is also the case under German law. Directors and CEOs have to bear in mind what is best for the business and act accordingly. In this regard, German courts do apply an objective…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 22, 2018
Criminal Law

Prosecuted in Germany?

German defense lawyer Alexander Greithaner specialises in international criminal cases and represents foreign clients in all areas of criminal law. Due to his international family background he is fluent in English, Spanish and, of course, German. First things first: If accused of a crime or misdemeanor in Germany, never make any kind of statement to the German police, German customs (Zoll) or any other German prosecution authority. This piece of advice sounds commonplace but many…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 11, 2018
Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian Probate

How to deal with Estates in Austria

Probate Proceedings in Austria are very different from those in Germany If a decedent who was not resident in Austria owned any assets in Austria at the time of his or her death, this Austrian Estate can only be accessed after going through formal Austrian Probate. Neither an English Grant of Probate nor a German Certificate of Inheritance will enable the executors or beneficiaries to access the Austrian assets, because Austrian banks, brokers, insurance companies…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 11, 2018
Business in GermanyCyberlawGeneralGerman Corporate Law

Google Analytics vs. GDPR – is that even possible?

We are currently receiving many inquiries from uncertain clients regarding the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). During an initial analysis of the homepage, it immediately becomes apparent that most clients use an analysis tool - mostly Google Analytics or Matomo (formerly Piwik). Such tools are useful and indispensable for good online marketing. But now the question arises: to what extent can these tools still be used to be compliant with the GDPR? Admittedly, we…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
May 20, 2018
Business in GermanyCyberlawGeneralGerman Corporate Law

Data Protection and German Businesses: New GDPR 2018 will cause a Flood of Lawsuits

Company Managers and British Parent Companies of German Subsidiaries better take this issue very seriously, because the German version of the GDPR is much stricter than the GDPR rules as applied in the UK. So if you are running a business in Germany, you should ensure that your German company is in full compliance. For instance in accounting and human resources. Because the German business mentality is to torture competitors with costly cease and desist…