German Law Requirements for Wills
When it comes to the drafting of a will in Germany the will one should be aware that there are certain rules governing the process. Generally, one can go down the route of availing of notarial assistance or one can draft a will privately. With notarial assistance one can be assured that the testament in question will be drafted in the appropriate legal form. This kind of testament will be respected in court and the person’s heirs will be provided with their inheritance.
Writing one’s own will privately makes it is more likely that mistakes may be made. What these mistakes may lead to may be difficult to appreciate without availing of competent legal counsel. This is because German courts can be quite strict when it comes to the implementation of wills if they do not follow the correct requirements.
When writing a will in Germany, one has to be over the age of sixteen in order for it to be considered valid. The person in question must also be deemed as competent when it comes to having the capability of looking after their own affairs. In this instance people with serious disabilities, serious mental health conditions or psychological disorders may not be deemed as competent. These rules regarding competence are in accordance with §2229 BGB.
When it comes to private wills one should be aware that it is required that they be handwritten (§2247 BGB). In this instance typed wills (on typewriter or computer) may not be deemed as valid as a recognised will. It is also recognised as important the will is dated and the place of writing is recorded. Although a signature is not a formal requirement it’s certainly strongly advised that one supply a recognisable signature. Without a signature a will may be disputed because of it can lead to question marks arising over whether the will in question is truly that of the testator. In other words; the authenticity of the will may be put into question.
Under German law it is not possible to completely disinherit a person’s heirs – unless there is serious reason to do so (serious criminal offences against the person). A complicated and difficult relationship between a parent and their children is not enough for them to completely disinherit a child. This is even the case if there have been many years of little or no contact. If a testator does not include those heirs (children, spouses and parents – in cases where there are no children) then they will be entitled to a compulsory statutory entitlement. The rules regarding compulsory statutory entitlements are derived from §2303 BGB. However, outside of the inability to completely disinherit one’s descendants/heirs, the testator has the power to choose how they will distribute their assets within their will.
In terms of the recognition of international wills, Germany is a member of the Hague Convention on the Form of Testamentary Dispositions. What this means is that in general Germany recognises foreign wills. The Convention has rules stating that wills should generally be recognised when they follow the laws of the country in which they were drafted if that is where the person had their residency, their citizenship or primary domicile. In turn, this results in one not being required to draw up a German will should they have one made abroad.
However, it is worth availing of legal advice on this topic if you want to ensure that your testament will be followed and officially recognised. Legal counsel can also ensure that your will has been drawn up with the legal requirements of the other jurisdiction. Grey areas can arise in some cases where complications arise with the citizenship and residency of the testator. This can result in (for example) a will designed for another jurisdiction being interpreted and enforced by German law – even when it was not intended to be. Obviously, such a case can lead to the testators wishes not being carried out in the manner that they may have aimed for. In order to ensure that such an event does not happen once again it is recommended to avail of legal counsel. Guidance through the field of inheritance law and wills in Germany is crucial.
Our Services with Wills in Germany
At Schlun & Elseven our legal team are well-versed in cases concerning wills in Germany. We provide a comprehensive service in ensuring that our clients’ interests are looked after. As well as inheritance law our firm also provides family office services for our clients. Furthermore, we place great emphasis on ensuring that communication is clear because we know that this is key to a solid relationship. With this in mind, our legal staff can communicate effectively in a range of languages including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish. Consequently, our clients are kept informed throughout their dealings with us and thus this ensures that nothing gets lost in translation.
Provided above on this page is the general information concerning the drafting of wills in Germany and the requirements for it. However, it is important to state that if one wishes to avail of more personalised legal advice then they should make contact with our office directly. This is because it is only through analysing the individual aspects of a case that we can provide comprehensive assistance. Therefore, if you have any further questions on the creation or implementation of wills in Germany contact us directly using the information below!