Law of Succession

We assist you in all matters relating to inheritance law.

Since 17 August 2015, Regulation (EU) No. 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 stipulates that the law applicable to the succession in principle shall be the law of the State in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of his death. However, a person may choose as the law to govern his succession the law of the State whose nationality he possesses.

Thus, the succession of any person who at the time of his death had his habitual residence in Germany is governed by German law, unless he is a national of another State and has validly chosen that other law to govern his succession. In concrete terms, the succession of an Englishman who was resident in Germany and who has not chosen English law to govern his succession is governed by German law. Moreover, even if a succession is not governed by German law, German law may be applicable to certain aspects of the settlement of the succession where the deceased had property in Germany. In all these cases, we assist you in the settlement of the succession.

We assist you in your succession planning. If you are an Englishman residing in Germany, your succession will be subject to German law, unless you validly exercise a choice of English law. In such a situation, you should therefore make an informed decision about which law should govern your succession. If you wish to opt for English law, you must make a valid choice. We assist you in exercising and implementing your choice of law.

In German law as in English law, the legal devolution (diverging between the two laws) applies in the absence of provisions of last will and testamentary disposition, in particular in the form of a will. Where German law is applicable, you have certain possibilities that do not exist under English law. For example, as married persons or persons in a registered partnership (eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft), you can draw up a joint will (gemeinschaftliches Testament). This, like the contract of inheritance, entails a limited revocability or even irrevocability of certain provisions which may correspond to the wishes of the persons involved. We are at your disposal to assist you in deciding how you wish to settle your succession.

After the occurrence of a death, it should be noted that the settlement of German inheritances is a matter for the heirs, who cannot therefore disregard the succession. In order to escape all responsibility for the German succession, the heir must disclaim the succession. Under German law, a heir who does not disclaim within a relatively short period of time is deemed to have accepted. This period, which is normally six weeks, is extended to six months if the heir resides abroad.

When the choice is made to accept the succession, the composition of the succession and the rights relating to it will have to be determined. We will obtain the required information for you and assist you in applying for a certificate of inheritance (Erbschein) or a European Certificate of Succession, which will certify your status as heir. We will assist you in the management of the community of heirs (Erbengemeinschaft) and in limiting the liability of the heirs where the deceased’s debts exceed the assets of the succession. Finally, we will assist you in the partition of the inheritance and in regularising the situation, e.g. by registering your rights in the land register (Grundbuch).

If your rights in the succession, your status as heir (Erbe), legatee (Vermächtnisnehmer) or reserved heir (Pflichtteilsberechtigter) are disputed, we will defend your interests before the competent courts.

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Inheritance (France)

Dr. iur. Alexander Mittmann
Rechtsanwalt · Avocat à la Cour
Sworn Translator

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 93 · 20355 Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0) 40 46 00 86 93
Facsimile: +49 (0) 40 46 00 86 94