All Posts By

Bernhard Schmeilzl

Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian Probate

Fast Track Probate in Austria: Delivery Procedure

How to access Austrian assets if the deceased was domiciled outside Austria? Austrian law offers two very different probate procedures, the comprehensive Verlassenschaftsverfahren (full Austrian probate) and the much simpler Ausfolgungsverfahren. Which of the two routes must be taken depends on the circumstances of the case. The requirements for the Ausfolgungsverfahren, i.e. the Austrian fast track probate process are explained in the post How to Access Assets in Austria. Now, please do not take "fast…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
May 16, 2019
Civil actionGoing to courtLitigation in Germany

German Litigation Consultants and Forensic Experts

Do German Civil Procedure Rules Permit Witness Preparation? The first thing every US litigator must understand when it comes to German civil and criminal cases is that in a German courtroom there is no jury. At all! This fact alone eliminates much of the courtroom drama, acting and psychological witness examination techniques which are commonly used under United States procedure rules. In the absence of a jury, there is no need for psychological litigation consultants…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
March 1, 2019
Austrian ProbateEuropean ProbateGerman Probate

One Single Grant of Probate for all of Europe. Really?

What is a "European Certificate of Succession"? If someone dies who owned assets in more than one European country, a central question is whether the executor(s) or the inheritor(s) must take out separate grants of probate (letters of administration) in each European country where the deceased has held assets. Or whether there is the option of applying for one single Grant which could then be used to administer the respective estates in all European countries? Where…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 28, 2019
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawInternational Probate

German Inheritance Tax Forms

Where to download the official German Estate and Gift Tax Forms If an estate comprises German assets or if a beneficiary to an estate is resident in Germany, then German inheritance tax ("Erbschaftsteuer") must be paid. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this German estate tax is levied either on the entire global estate of the deceased or at least on the portion of the estate which was gifted to the beneficiary who is…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 25, 2019
Civil actionCriminal LawGerman Tort LawGoing to courtLitigation in Germany

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Germany

How to sue a German Hospital or Physician for Medical Malpractice If you believe that you or a loved one suffered an injury caused by medical negligence (medical mistakes) in Germany, the first step is to stay calm -- as difficult as that may be -- and to try and collect as much factual information as possible without immediately declaring all out war on the medical staff or the hospital. Why? Because once you openly…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 20, 2019
Conveyancing GermanyGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawProperty in Germany

German Land Registry and the “Grundschuld”

Why Germans often leave a Mortgage (Grundschuld) entered in the Land Registry Records even if the underlying bank loan has been fully repaid? The German word for mortgage is "Grundschuld", which is the most commonly used form of a German security interest in land, i.e. real property lien (Grundpfandrecht). The relevant German statutes are s. 1113 et seqq. German Civil Code. Such a Grundschuld is created by notary deed whenever the German property owner wishes…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 20, 2019
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

How to get out of a German Community of Heirs

What is a German Erbengemeinschaft (Community of Heirs)? Under German succession laws and probate rules, if there is more than one heir (Erbe), these co-heirs (Miterben) automatically form a so called Erbengemeinschaft (community of heirs), see section 2032 German Civil Code. We have explained the legal nature of the German Erbengemeinschaft in this post here. Such a community of heirs can be compared to a business partnership where assets (i.e. the estate of the deceased) are…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 8, 2019
Family LawGerman LawGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax Law

Adoption of an Adult in Germany

How to adopt an adult under German law. And why people do it. Adopting an adult person (Erwachsenenadoption) is increasingly popular in Germany, especially in wealthy cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Berlin. Why so? Because a child -- including an adopted adult -- is entitled to claim the maximum German personal gift & inheritance tax allowance of EUR 400,000. More distant relatives, for instance nieces and nephews, only have a meager EUR 20,000 tax allowance…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 7, 2019
Austrian ProbateEuropean ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawInheritance Law SwitzerlandSwiss Probate

International Probate USA and Europe

Is a USA Grant of Probate valid in Europe? No, it is not. If a US citizen who passed away has owned assets in Europe, then the US executor (or their US probate lawyer dealing with this international estate) will have to obtain separate grants of probate (or letters of administration) in each and every European country where the decedent held assets. A grant issued by a U.S. probate court is of no use in…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
January 28, 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