The loss of a close relative often involves emotional burdens and legal, financial and organisational difficulties concerning the inheritance. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we understand that the decision to refuse an inheritance in Germany can be a difficult one. However, it is essential to understand that under German law, individuals have the legal right to refuse an inheritance if they so choose.
Whether due to financial constraints, family conflicts, or personal beliefs, our team of experienced attorneys is here to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected. If you require specialised legal assistance regarding refusing an inheritance in Germany, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Reasons for Refusing an Inheritance
In principle, no one is obliged to inherit against their will, which is vital because heirs often inherit without their intervention or unknowingly.
The testator’s inheritance is transferred to the heir by law through a will, inheritance contract or legal succession, initially under § 1922 German Civil Code (BGB). The heir receives not only the assets but also the debts and other liabilities of the deceased. In principle, they must also pay these out of their private assets. The heir is, therefore, initially liable not only for the inherited property.
Refusing an inheritance, therefore, makes sense if the estate is over-indebted. The heir should quickly obtain a detailed overview of the legacy to determine whether the estate is over-indebted.
All the components of the estate should be compared. These include valuables, real estate, bank balances, securities, loans, maintenance arrears, claims to a compulsory portion (Pflichtteil), funeral expenses and any additional costs for the opening of a will or administration of the estate.
Heirs may also seek to refuse an inheritance due to the potential of family conflicts, tax reasons or personal beliefs (moral or religious reasons).
After successfully refusing the inheritance, it is transferred, together with the debts, to the next person in succession. Therefore, you should ensure that you also waive the inheritance for your underage children.
Practice Group: German Inheritance Law
German Inheritance Law