In the absence of a will or contract of inheritance, the rules of intestate succession apply following the death of the testator. This can give rise to problems with today’s blended families.
GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: Anyone preparing a will can clearly define their final wishes as well as determine to the extent permissible by law who shall inherit what and when this will happen. In the absence of a will or contract of inheritance following the death of the testator, the rules of intestate succession apply. These primarily take account of the nuclear family, i.e. the spouse and the children they have in common.
However, society has changed substantially in recent years. Marriages end in divorce, divorced couples remarry, so-called blended families or stepfamilies emerge. This can lead to problems in succession cases. Anyone wishing to take account of the “new” family should draw up a will in order to circumvent intestate succession. In doing so, it is of course important to observe the statutory requirements, e.g. claims to a compulsory portion.
It is also possible for difficulties to arise if a so-called Berliner Testament (Berlin will) exists with the original spouse. The instructions laid out in this cannot be unilaterally altered. It might be necessary to revoke the joint will.
If a will exists, the testamentary dispositions ought to be precisely and unambiguously defined. The less room for interpretation that a will allows, the less likely it is that disputes will arise at a later date among the heirs. Furthermore, certain formal requirements also have be met. Thus, a will must always feature a clear heading stating that this is the testator’s final will. It equally needs to include a handwritten signature as well as the location and date.
Anyone who does not wish to subject their estate to the rules of intestate succession should prepare a will. This is the only way to account for persons, associations and foundations that are not automatically entitled to a share in the inheritance by virtue of the law. Lawyers who are competent in the field of succession law can assist you with issues concerning wills and contracts of inheritance.