All Posts By

Bernhard Schmeilzl

Business in GermanyGerman LawLitigation in Germany

British Solicitors: better brace for a cliff-edge Brexit

“Brexit not the end of the world” Theresa May recently statedthat a no-deal Brexit ‘wouldn’t be the end of the world’. How reassuring! If you are an English or Scottish solicitor who specialises in international law, such a rock hard Brexit may, however, well be the end of your career as an internation lawyer. Because in case of an ever more likely no-deal scenario, English solicitors will no longer be able to provide legal services…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 30, 2018
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

How to Limit the Personal Liability of Executors and Beneficiaries in German Probate Cases

Using "Public Creditor Notification" (Aufgebotsverfahren) to restrict liability to the funds available in the German estate Under German succession laws, a beneficiary (Erbe) is personally liable for the debts of the decedent, i.e. if the debts of the deceased exceed the value of the estate then the beneficiaries must pay the remaining debts out of their own pockets. More here.   Obviously, no beneficiary in his or her right mind wants that result (except for…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 9, 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 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