Anyone who wants their estate to be organized in accordance with their wishes prepares a will. However, there are many pitfalls that can result in the will being ineffective.
If the testator fails to leave behind any testamentary disposition then the rules of intestate succession apply. Those who want their estate to be distributed differently from what the rules of intestate succession allow for should prepare a will or contract of inheritance. Despite this, it is still possible for disputes to emerge among the heirs concerning the validity of the will, which is why one ought to make sure when preparing the testamentary disposition that it is clearly and unambiguously worded to ensure that the final will is actually capable of being implemented in accordance with the wishes of the testator. We at the law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte have the necessary experience to exclude the possibility of potential mistakes in relation to a will and draw it up in such a way that it is effective.
The will can either be handwritten or drafted by a notary. While the formal requirements pertaining to a handwritten will are not substantial, one ought to nonetheless be mindful of a few basic things. For instance, a will should always have a heading which clearly indicates that this is the testator’s final will. It is also important to include a handwritten signature together with the relevant date and location. Furthermore, the entire text needs to be handwritten by the testator.
The testator can lay out who shall inherit as well as those who will be excluded from the inheritance. Notwithstanding this, any claims to the compulsory portion, e.g. from the spouse or children, have to be taken into account. The circumstances pursuant to which divestiture of the compulsory portion is possible are very limited.
It is possible to make amendments or additions to the will. It must be readily apparent that these stem from the testator. The safer option is to prepare a new will that automatically supersedes the old one. The date should always be specified to avoid disputes regarding which will is valid.
In the case of so-called “Berliner Testaments” (Berlin wills) or joint spousal wills, on the other hand, making unilateral changes is not as easy because of their provisions’ strong binding effect. This should always be borne in mind in relation to a Berliner Testament.
The wording should always be unambiguous. For example, it is necessary to distinguish between an heir and a legacy. Only the heir becomes the testator’s legal successor with all of the associated rights and obligations.
Lawyers who are experienced in the field of succession law can advise on matters pertaining to wills and contracts of inheritance.