A testamentary disposition need not necessarily be laid out in a will. The testator and heir can conclude a contract of inheritance as an alternative.
GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: In principle, it is possible to issue the same instructions in a contract of inheritance as in a will. However, in the case of a will, the instructions are made unilaterally and can therefore be revoked by the testator at any time. This does not apply to contracts of inheritance. Binding orders can be cancelled with the consent of both contractual parties. Unlike in the case of a will, a contract of inheritance must also be certified by a notary.
Thus, the testator is restricting his freedom by issuing binding instructions in a contract of inheritance. He can, on the other hand, also benefit from a contract of inheritance, as the heir specified in the contract generally commits to certain obligations, such as, for instance, taking care of the testator.
As is common in the case of any other type of contract, parties to a contract of inheritance should also carefully consider which binding obligations they wish to assume, because a contract of inheritance cannot be readily annulled and it is not possible for it to be unilaterally terminated. It is, however, possible to include a right of withdrawal in a contract of inheritance. In order to be able to assess all of the possibilities and consequences arising from a contract of inheritance, it is advisable to seek the advice of a lawyer who is competent in the field of succession law before concluding the contract.
In the absence of a contract of inheritance or a will, the rules of intestate succession kick in. Those who wish to prevent this from happening and arrange their estate differently so as to avoid communities of heirs or the division of capital ought to lay out their testamentary disposition accordingly in a contract of inheritance or will. It is also particularly important for unmarried couples to organise their estate at an early stage if one’s partner is supposed to become heir; this person would not be taken into account under the rules of intestate succession and could then potentially come away empty-handed.
For more informations: http://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/law-of-succession/contract-of-inheritance.html