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When you inherit

A notary can also assist you after a death in the family. First, all of the testator’s existing wills must be read. If the deceased did not leave a last will and testament or only left a handwritten one, a court will need to probate the estate. You can apply for probate in front of your notary – we will make sure to use the correct wording and tell you what information to provide and statements to make.

A family member’s death is always tragic, but it can be particularly painful for the heirs. German law provides for succession to the entire estate. In other words, heirs inherit the testator’s debts as well as her assets. The heirs are fully and personally liable for these debts unless they file for the bankruptcy or administration of the decedent’s estate. If the heir does not want the inheritance due to the debts or other reasons, he will have to disclaim it. In this case, the inheritance is deemed not to have accrued at all. Your notary can explain the process in more detail. Be careful: the disclaimer must be received by the probate court in due form within six weeks after learning of the inheritance and the reason for the heir’s entitlement to the inheritance, which generally occurs six weeks after learning of the testator’s death. If the court does not receive it by this time, the inheritance will be deemed accepted. If spouses have accrued significant gains during their marriage and have chosen the statutory matrimonial property regime, the surviving spouse may fare better if he or she disclaims the inheritance and claims equalisation of accrued gains and the forced estate based on the value of the property originally brought into the marriage. Ask your notary for details.

If there are several heirs, they will have to dispose of the estate jointly. A notary can help you distribute the estate, especially if it includes land or shares in a company. If a co-heir wants to dispose of his entire share in the estate, this must be done in a notarial contract.

For further details
Inheritance law glossary (Download)
Information pages of the Central Register of Wills