Specialist lawyer for
international family law
Inheritance law comprises the sum of the legal provisions that regulate the transfer of the estate of a deceased (testator) to other persons as well as the right of the heir to take possession of an estate in whole or in part. With regard to the actual legal succession, there are often serious misunderstandings or misconceptions. Often spouses wrongly assume that if one of the spouses dies, the other spouse will automatically become his heir. Unfortunately, this idea is only partially correct. If there is no will, according to the legal inheritance regulations, the children of the spouses are entitled to part of the estate, when the first spouse deceases. In these cases, the so-called Berlin Testament or will that is tailored to the individual needs of the spouses provides a remedy. The above example shows that the early drafting of a will is absolutely necessary to prevent undesired inheritance issues.
In principle, a will can either be handwritten or certified by a notary. So far as spouses wish to draw up a joint will, this last will can be recorded in a joint document. Of course, our law firm offers the creation of individual wills tailored to your own needs.
While wills can be stored privately, this should not be done for reasons of legal certainty. After all, keeping a will in-house does not guarantee that the will will actually be carried out or that the finder will open it to the courts. It is therefore advisable to deposit the will with the competent probate court in accordance with § 2248 BGB. The judicial deposit ensures that, in the event of the deceased's death, the will is opened by an automated procedure.
Heirs who have acquired inheritance claims either through the will of a deceased testator or through statutory inheritance law, must assert these independently.
To assert inheritance claims, the heir is also supported by the right to demand finoncial disclosure. Due to a large number of statutory deadlines, it is advisable to assert the corresponding claims immediately.
Inheritance claims generally become statute-barred within the standard limitation period of three years. Accordingly, heirs who have acquired inheritance claims either by testamentary disposition or by statutory inheritance law must assert these within three years. The thirty-year statutory limitation period only applies for a few special cases. There is also a limitation period of three years for the assertion of compulsory inheritance portion claims. It should be noted that the limitation period also applies to claims for compulsory portion.
Under certain circumstances, the biological descendants of a testator, his parents and also his spouse may be entitled to compulsory inheritance portion even in the event of a will of disinheritance. The compulsory inheritance portion generally exist in the amount of half the statutory inheritance share. It should be noted that the corresponding compulsory inheritance portion claims on the occasion of inheritance are not automatically passed out. The claims must be asserted independently by the person entitled to the compulsory inheritance portion and can become statute-barred if they are not asserted.