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All Posts By

Bernhard Schmeilzl

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…
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance Law

Executors and Trustees in German Inheritance Law

How estates are administered in Germany There exist, as we have explained here, fundamental differences between the inheritance law concepts of the UK and Germany. Since UK probate law requires a personal representative, many testators in the UK appoint an executor in their will. In Germany, however, where a "personal representative" is unknown due to the principle of universal succession, the inheritors come into ownership as well as into possession of the estate automatically and…
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance Law

When a deceased UK Citizen owned Assets in Germany

How to get access to an Estate under German Inheritance Law When a UK citizen dies while having possessions in Germany (bank accounts, deposits, shares, insurance claims or property), one must first determine whether the estate is governed by German hereditary law and thus falls into the competence of German probate courts: Basically, both from a UK and a German legal perspective this depends on where the deceased was domiciled, i.e. the place where a…
Civil actionDebt collectionGoing to court

How to register and enforce UK judgments in Germany

Update November 2018: Please note that Brexit will bring significant and currently unforseeable changes in this field The below text explains the legal situation pre-Brexit: If a German debtor refuses to pay the first issue to clarify is whether you must sue him in Germany  or whether you can sue in the UK. In other words: It must be resolved which country’s courts have jurisdiction and which law shall apply. The parties may have agreed…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
April 16, 2013
Criminal Law

Arrested in Germany? Accused of a Crime?

German Criminal Proceedings In case you run into trouble with German police or customs authorities the basic rule is - as everywhere - do not speak to them without getting proper legal counsel first. Much less sign anything they put in front of you. Police will put any statement you make into an official interrogation protocol. And, quite often, the wording of such protocol is given a spin that is helping the authorities make their…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
April 15, 2013
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance Law

Disinherit your no-good children? Not so easy in Germany

Close relatives are always entitled to a portion of the estate. Period! Really? According to German inheritance law, close relatives have a right to claim a portion of the estate, even if the testator did not want to leave them anything and has consequently disinherited them. This so called "Pflichtteil" is mostly translated with "statutory share", "forced share" or "compulsory share". However, it is difficult to find the correct English word, because this concept does…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
March 22, 2013