As stated above, the certificate of inheritance (“der Erbschein”) is a document that identifies heirs when they approach insurance companies, banks, tenants/landlords, business partners and other bodies. It provides clear identification of the heirs. It is vital in cases where the testator has not left a notarized will or contract of inheritance. The law for the certificate of inheritance can be found between §§ 2353 – 2370 BGB. Alternatively, a testator can grant an individual the power of attorney if that power of attorney is valid following the deceased’s passing. A certificate of inheritance may not be needed when the testator has left a notarized will.
The application for a certificate of inheritance should be made at the probate court or notarized by the public notary. It is not provided automatically. Contact an experienced inheritance lawyer if there is any fear of disputed inheritance.
With the certificate of inheritance, the heir can then make decisions and legal transactions on the property and assets inherited. Once it has been issued, the heirs can decide on loans that have been made, debts that exist, and selling the property in question. However, it should be noted that the extent to which a person can make such decisions is based on their inherited amount. The certificate of inheritance (der Erbschein) will outline the amount you have inherited and whether you are a sole heir.
In cases where a property has fallen into the hands of multiple heirs, a “community of heirs” develops under German law.