Anyone who does not wish to have their estate distributed in accordance with the rules of intestate succession needs to prepare a will or contract of inheritance. In order to prevent disputes from occurring, it is important that the testator’s final wishes be clear.
GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: Thinking about one’s own death may not be a common occurrence in our younger years, but it is advisable even at this early stage to give thought to the distribution of your estate. In the absence of a will or contract of inheritance, the rules of intestate succession kick in automatically. The end result does not always correlate with the testator’s wishes. Testamentary dispositions can be set out in a will or contract of inheritance and the testator can, having due regard to statutory regulations, personally designate his heirs. That being said, flawed wills are not uncommon and nor are disputes among the heirs.
To ensure that the testator’s final wishes are actually implemented and disputes can be avoided, it is important to be mindful of potential sources of errors when it comes to wills.
Despite the fact that there are few requirements pertaining to the form of handwritten wills, the testator should nonetheless bear in mind that it is not enough for him to have simply personally signed the will; the entire text has to be handwritten. Of course, his signature ought not to be omitted. Moreover, it is equally important to specify the location and date. The will should also include a suitable heading so that it is clear that the document represents the testator’s final wishes. This applies to subsequent additions or amendments as well. It is also crucial to take account of claims to a compulsory portion as well as other legal provisions.
Another important factor is keeping the will in a place where the heirs will be able to find it. One option is to hand it over for a fee to the probate court for safekeeping.
To prevent any misunderstandings from arising, one should also ensure that the wording is unambiguous. It ought to be apparent from this what the testator wanted to achieve with his dispositions. The clearer the wording, the less of a basis there is for disputes and the more confidence the testator can have that his testamentary dispositions will be implemented in accordance with his wishes.
Lawyers who are experienced in the field of succession law can advise on matters relating to wills and contracts of inheritance.
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