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 track” too seriously. This is Austria, where they still use horse carriages in downtown Vienna. Granted, mostly for tourists to use, but still. Austrian probate is infamously slow and even the delivery procedure (Ausfolgungsverfahren) will easily take 6 to 12 months to be completed. Do not even ask how long a full Verlassenschaftsverfahren will take in an international inheritance case.
Austrian Delivery Procedure Probate Court Order (Ausfolgungsbeschluss)
Here, we show what the Austrian “fast track grant” looks like in practice. The below real life example of an Ausfolgungsbeschluss, i.e. a court order issued by an Austrian civil law notary on behalf of the Vienna District Court, authorises the English executors of an otherwise purely English probate case, to access an Austrian bank account which the decedent had held.
What to do once the Austrian Grant of Probate is issued?
Unlike in England, Austrian probate courts take a very active role in the administration of the Austrian assets. The court itself takes possession of the estate and directly instruct the Austrian bank to pay the probate court fees as well as notary and – in this case also – translation fees. The remaining balance can then be collected by the executors or administrators which are named in the Austrian court order (in the above example under section 2 of the grant).
The whole matter is not exactly cheap. While the court fees themselves are relatively small (in this case EUR 72), the civil law notary does charge roughly EUR 1,000 although the bank account was below EUR 10,000.
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For more information on German-British and Austrian-British probate matters and international will preparation see the below posts by the international succession law experts of Graf & Partners LLP:
- How to access Assets in Austria
- How to deal with Austrian Estates
- Most Germans die without a Will (German Intestacy Rules)
- Formal Requirements to set up a valid Will in England, Scotland and Germany: What are the Differences?
- The Perils of German IHT and Gift Tax
- Careful with Deed of Variation if Estate comprises Foreign Assets
- Basics of German Inheritance and Succession Law
- Executors and Trustees in German Inheritance Law
- How to apply for a German Grant of Probate