Standard Details in English on German probate and inheritance law.
German inheritance law offers that decedent’s property passes directly to the beneficiaries at the time of death. Under German law the very same rule uses to decedent’s responsibilities. Besides assets you may also acquire financial obligations in Germany. However it is possible to disclaim an inheritance in Germany.
There is no US-style probate in Germany and, usually, there is no court monitored administration of decedent’s estate in Germany. Under German law a will may call an executor and attend to subsequent estate administration, however many wills in Germany do not.
There are no living trusts under German law. Germany is a civil law jurisdiction which does not recognize trusts. There will be no trustee taking title to decedent’s properties in Germany.
If you are an heir under German law depends on whether decedent left a will. If there is no will you might be a beneficiary at law under German law of intestate succession. If there is a will, in many cases, you will only be a successor if decedent called you explicitly, or implicitly. If you are not a beneficiary under the will, German law supplies that you may still be entitled to a forced share of the inheritance, even if decedent intended to omit you.
How do you learn that you may have made an inheritance in Germany? Anybody who remains in ownership or control of a will is needed to send it to the Court where decedent was domiciled. The Court will inform you if you are an heir under the will, or an heir at law. Even if there is no will beneficiaries regularly have to apply for letters of inheritance which are essential to move title to acquired property in Germany, and generally needed to settle bank accounts and claims in Germany. Once the Court receives an application it will alert the beneficiaries at law. If the identity of the beneficiaries is not clear the Court may utilize investigators to discover and get in touch with possible heirs.
Once you have knowledge that you have ended up being an heir at law, or under decedent’s will, you have six weeks to disclaim the inheritance, if you have actually not currently accepted it. Beneficiaries who live abroad, or are abroad at the time of death, take advantage of an extended duration. If you live in the United States you have 6 months to disclaim an inheritance in Germany. Please note that certain acts might indicate approval of an inheritance under German law. If you accept an inheritance in Germany you might be personally accountable for decedent’s debts with your own assets.
Most likely, you will face inheritance tax liability in Germany. Germany, unlike the United States, does not tax the estate. Each beneficiary and each beneficiary is taxed individually. Tax rates and exemptions differ. They depend upon the degree of kinship and the quantity inherited. You will have to submit an inheritance tax return in Germany.