Writing a Will in Germany

The world has become smaller. As communication improves, barriers fall and working becomes international; it’s clear that people end up living in places where maybe they hadn’t planned on originally. In such events it is worth preparing oneself for every eventuality. When it comes to the topic of wills and inheritance one should prepare themselves and avail of appropriate legal advice and assistance. Why should they do this? They should plan ahead because German law is likely to be very different to that of the law of their home country. Should a person not have the correct legal requirements within their will it is quite possible that their wishes will not be carried out properly. Moreover, one requires the right form of will to ensure that it is legally enforceable. Having a legal partner on hand to provide advice concerning the language and the law on this topic is vital.

Wills in Germany: Counsel and What You Need to Know

On this page the information one needs will be outlined regarding wills in Germany. We have also listed some of the services we provide in this field and how we help our clients when it comes to their testaments. Our lawyers assist with the drafting of wills in ensuring that they are legally valid and in changing or revoking wills if necessary. The revocation of wills, and the terms of such revocation and changes, is allowed for under and legislated by §§2253-2258 BGB. Our service will ensure that your final wishes are delivered as you mean them to.

As a firm with an international outlook we also work with clients who have made their will abroad. Our lawyers determine with them the best course of action to take as regards having it recognised. This works the other way around as well with some of our clients drafting wills in Germany but now live outside of the jurisdiction. With each country having different laws as to what is allowed for in wills this work requires personalised service. If you are in one of the above situations make sure to contact us directly so that our team can work with you directly.

Here listed are some of the services we offer when it comes to wills in Germany and abroad.

  • Notary service,
  • Counsel on German law,
  • Advice regarding international wills,
  • Recognition of German wills abroad
  • Mutual wills,
  • Revocation/changes to wills,
  • Joint wills
  • Advice on capacity to make a will

Your Partner for Wills and Inheritance Law in Germany

Rechtsanwalt für Inkasso und Zwangsvollstreckung: Aykut Elseven

Dr. Thomas Bichat


Rest assured that your will is taken care of

Schlun & Elseven Attorneys are here to make sure your wishes are carried out

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.

The 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.

International Wills

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!

Contact a German Lawyer for Inheritance law and Wills

Use our online form to tell us about your concerns in German inheritance law and wills in Germany. After receiving your request, our lawyers for inheritance law will make a short preliminary assessment on the basis of the information provided and give you a cost estimation. You are then free to decide whether you want to instruct us.

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Schlun & Elseven
Rechtsanwälte PartG
Von-Coels-Straße 214
52080 Aachen (Eilendorf)
Tel: 0241 4757140
Fax: 0241 47571469
E-Mail: info@se-legal.de


Schlun & Elseven
Rechtsanwälte PartG
Kyffhäuserstr. 45
50674 Köln
Tel: 0221 93295960
Fax: 0221 932959669
E-Mail: info@se-legal.de


Schlun & Elseven
Rechtsanwälte PartG
Königsallee 60F
40212 Düsseldorf
Tel: 021188284196
Fax: 0221 932959669
E-Mail: info@se-legal.de

Office Hours

Mo – Fr:
09:00 – 19:00 Uhr
0241 4757140

Meetings only through Telephone Appointment