Disputes regarding Wills in Germany

German Inheritance Lawyers

Disputes regarding Wills in Germany

German Inheritance Lawyers

Disputes between heirs about the distribution of the estate are not uncommon. Often, superficial differences of opinion lead to an inheritance dispute that becomes bogged down, which end can hardly be foreseen. This leads to enormous emotional and financial burdens for those involved, and even family ties get broken. If no amicable solution can be reached, the path to court is ultimately taken.

There are many causes for disputes in the case of inheritance. A community of heirs is created between several co-heirs, which harbours the considerable potential for conflict. If the heirs disagree about the administration of the settlement of the estate, this can lead to protracted litigation. However, external pressure can also arise because the testator may have excluded legal heirs from the succession, who now assert their claim to the compulsory portion (“der Pflichtteil”) against the community of heirs. Frequently, the will is also called into question, for example, due to the presumed testamentary incapacity of the testator or possible formal errors, which in turn can cause disagreements.

In the case of inheritance, diverse and complex questions and problems can arise, whereby an additional challenge is often the high degree of emotionality. Our lawyer for inheritance law, Dr Thomas Bichat, is ready to advise and represent you in inheritance disputes on all legal issues arising with sensitivity and assertiveness.

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Contesting the Will

Voluntary succession takes precedence over intestate succession. Although it is advisable to regulate one’s inheritance using a testamentary disposition, the last will of a testator often leads to disappointment for the surviving dependants. This disappointment applies particularly to legal heirs who the testamentary disposition has passed over. The passing over of a beneficiary of a compulsory share of which the testator had no knowledge or became entitled to a mandatory share only after the will was drawn up may constitute grounds for contesting the will (§ 2079 BGB).

The validity of a will can also be doubted for other reasons. A ground for contest exists, for example, if the testator was mistaken about the content of his testamentary disposition or did not intend to make a declaration of this content at all (§ 2078 (1) 1 BGB). Furthermore, an error of motive on the testator’s part can also lead to contestability, i.e., they were mistaken about a reason underlying their will (§ 2078 (2) BGB). The testator´s testamentary capacity can also be questioned. This is the capacity to make, amend or revoke a will. Anyone who has total legal capacity is also capable of making a will. In addition, minors have limited testamentary capacity when they reach the age of 16. However, the will of someone incapable of making a will can also be valid if they have acted at a time of clarity.