Inheritance spelled on cubes - a certificate of inheritance is part of the inheritance process.

Certificate of Inheritance

In German inheritance law, the certificate of inheritance is a certificate which can only be issued by a German probate court upon a respective application. It is a means of legitimation of the heir or of a multitude of persons who are named therein. It is proof of the power of disposition about assets in the respective decedent’s estate of co-heirs or of a sole heir in legal relations. The German certificate of inheritance testifies the inheritance rights stated therein. Dissenting opinions about the certificate`s contents can even lead to an estate litigation in Germany. The certificate of inheritance`s accuracy is statutorily presumed under German law.

If testamentary dispositions include an order of execution of the last will and testament, this fact must also be stated in the certificate of inheritance, as well as any restrictions of the heirs, for example by a testamentary disposition about a preliminary and reversionary inheritance (Vor- und Nacherbschaft).

In most cases, the German certificate of inheritance allows the heir to take possession of the overall estate in Germany including security deposits accounts, regular bank accounts, other assets, and German real estate of the deceased.

The certificate of inheritance needs to be applied for and can only be issued by the competent German probate court. Together with the application, a bundle of official documents needs to be submitted to the probate court.

In particular, the probate court will require civil status documents and the death certificate of the deceased. There are many inheritance law provisions under German law which deal with those and with comparable legal issues.

In succession matters dating after August 17th, 2015, the European Succession Regulation applies as well and the so-called European Certificate of Succession, supplements or rather exists besides the German certificate of inheritance – at least in succession matters with an international relevance.

In many cases, it is helpful for the applicant to obtain legal representation for application proceedings for a German certificate of inheritance or application proceedings for a European Certificate of Succession. This especially applies for applicants from abroad, because German inheritance law for foreigners is more difficult to explain. We are used to providing that service to our customers.

If the succession case has international relevance or if it is unclear who the heirs are, if the applicant was designated as co-heir or only as legatee, or if it is doubtful that he really is entitled to fully claim the desired share, then you should seek our professional support. These are only three of numerous further examples for cases in which legal advice in a certificate of inheritance’s context is strongly recommended.

After a person’s death, you as surviving descendants surviving spouse or other beneficiaries, perhaps also possible heirs, generally have other problems than burdening yourself with the very formal application proceedings for a German certificate of inheritance or for a European Succession Certificate, alternatively.

We support you with our large experience and competence in these probate court proceedings and, if you wish, even beyond that stage.

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Dr. Marcus Hosser TEP (Trust and Estate Practitioner) – Fachanwalt für Erbrecht.
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