Divorce results in any mutual inheritance claims between former spouses lapsing. However, it is possible for these to indirectly arise again. A “Geschiedenen-Testament” (divorcee will) can then prove to be useful.
GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: In principle, it ought to be a straightforward affair: the marriage has come to an end and the former partners are no longer entitled to mutual inheritance rights. Having said that, it is possible for these inheritance rights to be revived. Any children that one has in common with an ex-partner can serve as a back door to the latter’s estate.
After the death of a divorced former partner, it is the children who inherit. If at the time of the testator’s death a child is still a minor, the remaining parent assumes authority for administering the assets, and this includes the share of the inheritance. In this way, the former partner indirectly acquires a share in the estate again. If any children in common pass away before the surviving parent, the latter may become the heir to the children and would thus once again acquire a share in the inheritance. Those wishing to conclusively part ways following a divorce, including with respect to matters pertaining to succession law, should take appropriate action and draw up a so-called “Geschiedenen-Testament”.
A Geschiedenen-Testament can include provisions on preliminary and revisionary succession. In that case, the child common to both parents is appointed as a preliminary heir. In case said child should die, it is possible to already have a revisionary heir, to whom the estate would then go to, designated in the will. The divorced partner would not then be entitled to inheritance rights. Arrangements relating to revisionary succession can also be subject to a time limit.
It should also be noted, however, that a Geschiedenen-Testament entails a lot of potential pitfalls. Anyone wishing to play it safe and ensure that their ex-partner has no chance of inheriting anything should therefore obtain competent advice from lawyers who are versed in the field of succession law. If there are still common financial investments arising from the marriage, e.g. life insurance policies or savings contracts with a building society, it is still possible to have the former spouse designated as a beneficiary. It is equally important in these instances to make further precautionary arrangements. If a will has already been drafted that takes account of the former spouse, this entitlement then generally lapses. To prevent any uncertainty, it might be a good idea to revoke this will and prepare a new one.
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