Testament

Last will and testament

While you can draw up a signed, handwritten last will and testament, caution is advised. A formal defect, though small, could render the entire will null and void. If the will is not filed with an official body, you cannot be sure whether or by whom it will be found or whether the finder will present the will to the probate court for reading. Moreover, many handwritten, signed wills are unclear or contradictory and thus in need of interpretation – inevitably leading to infighting among the heirs.

If heirs feel slighted, they will often contest the will and question whether the testator really wrote it or was even legally competent.

A notarial last will and testament completely avoids this uncertainty. The notary is conversant with all the formalities and uses precise language that leaves no room for interpretation or disputes. The will is filed with the probate court; the civil registry at the testator’s birthplace is notified of its existence. This way, the testator’s last will and testament will definitely be found and read after his death.

Also, unlike a handwritten will, your heirs generally do not need to have a notarial will probated. They can quickly distribute the estate without dealing with excessive red tape or wait-ing for the probate court to review and probate the last will and testament. Incidentally, this is also why a notarial last will and testament is less expensive than a handwritten one. Not only does it protect your heirs from a potential costly dispute, it also eliminates the probate costs. If the deceased’s estate is worth EUR 50,000.00, for example, a notary would charge around 170.00 to draw up a last will and testament, including consultations. The probate process, by contrast, would cost roughly EUR 300.00 including all notary and court costs.

For further details
Inheritance law glossary (Download)
Flyer: “Register of wills: a safe place for your legacy” (Download) (In German only)
Information pages of the Central Register of Wills