03. Aug 15

Inheritance law: Rules of intestate succession apply in the absence of a will

The rules of intestate succession apply in the absence of a will. This can result in the estate being distributed in a way that is different to what the testator actually wanted.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: It is only those who prepare a testamentary will who, taking into account the legal boundaries, are able to arrange their succession in the way they envisaged it. This also particularly applies to the line of succession, as the rules of intestate succession automatically kick in in the absence of a will.

This can give rise, for example, to a situation in which the surviving spouse of a childless marriage does not automatically become the sole heir, even if that might have been what the testator wanted, because other relatives are also taken into account with intestate succession. In this case, the surviving spouse would only receive part of the inheritance. The rest would go to the parents of the deceased as so-called second-order heirs. Thereafter, siblings or nieces and nephews move up the line of succession.

The situation can also turn out the complete opposite if relatives such as siblings come into the picture, since the surviving spouse as well as the children and grandchildren are the first to be taken into account in the event of intestate succession. If other persons or a foundation are meant to have a share of the inheritance, this has to be laid down in a will. In addition, the spouse and the children cannot be completely cut out; they are entitled to their statutory reserved portion. The following applies as a rule to intestate succession: The closer the degree of kinship, the higher the position in the line of succession.

A will has to be handwritten and personally signed. Moreover, it must be clear that the document concerns the testator’s “final will” and ought to be headed accordingly. An alternative is a will certified by a notary public. In order to ensure that all of the relevant legal provisions have been observed, the will ought to be reviewed by experts. Lawyers who are competent in the field of inheritance law can be of assistance from the outset when drawing up the will. They can organise the estate and have it passed on as the testator intended.

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