Category

International Probate

German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

Sell Your Share in a German Estate — Even Before Probate

Renouncing the Inheritance Against Fair Financial Compensation If you have inherited in Germany but are not the only beneficiary, you may get tied up in the administration of such a German estate for years, because under German succession law, there is no personal representative (i.e. executor or administrator). Instead, the co-heirs (Miterben) deal with the estate themselves. Such a community of beneficiaries is called "Erbengemeinschaft". The practical problem: They have to work together and most…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
October 28, 2020
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

International Inheritance — Is Cherry Picking Permitted?

Can you accept an inheritance in one country and renounce the inheritance in another? To a continental European Estate lawyer, the above question sounds absurd, because the traditional approach of German and French succession law has always been that a deceased person (decedent) leaves behind one single global estate (holistic approach, in German referred to as "Prinzip der Nachlasseinheit"). Therefore, even if the decedent has owned property in various countries around the globe, a German…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
October 14, 2020
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateLitigation in Germany

GERMAN WILLS ARE OFTEN VOIDABLE

A child or surviving spouse can challenge a German Will made "too early" German laws of succession are full of surprises, even for German lawyers who do not specialise in estate and probate law. One of those German succession law statutes which create shock among the testamentary heirs and beneficiaries is sections 2079 German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch).  The language of the statute is somewhat cryptic: A will is voidable if the testator has omitted a…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
April 9, 2020
German LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

TYPICAL GERMAN WILL FOR SPOUSES – THE SO CALLED EHEGATTENTESTAMENT

German Spouses usually set up a Joint Will called Berliner Testament Under German succession laws, a will must either be officially recorded by a German notary public or the entire will must be written in the testator's own hand, so called eigenhändiges Testament (holographic will). More on the formal requirements to create a valid will is explained here. Married couples in Germany usually opt for the so called "Berliner Testament" or "Ehegattentestament", i.e. a joint…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
March 3, 2020
European ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

German Elder Law Experts – Since 2003

GrafLegal focuses on International Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law Overseas probate law expert Bernhard Schmeilzl, Esq. has 20 years of experience dealing with international estate matters between the USA and Europe. He runs the leading blogs www.internationalprobatelaw.com for American families with assets in Europe and www.GermanCivilProcedure.com which both provide practical information on estate planning, on how to obtain foreign probate, on how to draft wills which are valid in multiple jurisdictions and -- if it comes…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 28, 2019
Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

International Probate Law – German Lawyers for Americans with Assets in Europe

Specialist Lawyers for the Administrations of Estates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and England American families with assets in central European countries will find all they need to know about estate planning, creating living wills in Europe, probate proceedings and inheritance tax (also called estate tax or death tax) on the website InternationalProbateLaw.com, provided by the international probate law experts of Graf Legal LLP, a firm that specialises in German-American law since 2003. Many U.S. families…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 30, 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
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
European ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

Which German Court has jurisdiction for a Probate Application?

Submitting the German Probate Application to the wrong court will cause months of delay If the deceased had owned assets in Germany, you will need to apply for a separate German grant. Grants issued by a British probate registry or a United States probate court are useless in Germany. As we have explained in our post “How to apply for a German Grant of Probate”, German institutions (land registry, banks, insurance companies etc) as well…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
January 22, 2019
German LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGoing to courtInternational Probate

German Grant of Probate not always necessary

Since the 2016 landmark ruling by the German Federal Court of Justice, beneficiaries (heirs) to a German estate may be able to entirely avoid German probate proceedings. Even if there is just a handwritten will. If a decedent who owned assets in Germany died intestate, a German grant (ERbschein) is unavoidable. But if he or she has made any kind of German will, chances are that formal probate proceedings may not even be necessary to…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
December 17, 2018