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German-British Succession Case

Compared to purely national succession cases, a German-British succession case shows a range of particularities. Specialist inheritance lawyer Dr Hosser knows many of these.

The settlement of a foreign estate with connections to Great Britain or England and Wales is difficult, and it is practically impossible for a layperson to manage this area without professional support, also as it comes to inheritance tax duties.

European Succession Regulation inapplicable in the UK to German-British Successions

Even before the Brexit, the European Succession Regulation had not covered German-British succession cases, since Great Britain had never ratified this regulation. This still is the legal status quo today.

From the perspective of the European Succession Regulation, Great Britain remained to be a so-called third country. Therefore, the law applicable to German-British succession cases may be determined differently from a British perspective, as would be the case pursuant to the regulations of the European Succession Regulation in one of their member states.

So, the European Succession Regulation, from the foreign state’s perspective does neither apply in a German-British succession case nor in a German-American succession case, since both nations qualify as third countries.

Partially, the succession law to be applied in the specific case will be determined from the perspective of the foreign legal system on the basis of other criteria– for example the nationality of the deceased – than the European Succession Regulation would use.

Frequently, from the perspective of the international succession law, foreign law will apply, so that its connecting factors are relevant for the applicable succession law. In case of a choice of law, special aspects apply in a testamentory disposition.

In the international succession law of England and Wales, for example, the inheritance of property assets will follow the inheritance law of the property location, but for the moveable estate assets, other connecting factors apply.

Which succession law will finally be applied to specific inheritance objects in German-British succession cases, will be determined individually in each case.

Are there Peculiarities in German-British Succession’s Settlements?

Yes, compared to the settlement of a German succession case, everything is different. In English law, the principle of universal succession does not exist, but the estate is treated similarly to a legal entity and is represented by a legal representative in the legal process.

The estate, as a kind of a legal entity of its own pursuant to the law of England and Wales, is either transferred to a so-called executor nominated by the deceased or to a so-called administrator, a court-appointed executor.

If the planning of the estate makes use of a testamentary trust, things are getting really complicated: the split-up of the property of assets assigned to a trust is not accepted by German inheritance law and for German assets, the testamentary trust itself would have to be transferred to categories of German law.

How can I profit from the Experience with German-British Successions?

In an international succession case, it is always advantageous that we as foreign lawyers – from the perspective of the law from England and Wales – are already aware of the numerous peculiarities of the English law and the law of Wales.

We have gathered experience with German-British succession cases, among others in a huge English-German mandate assigned to our law firm by two English executors, to assist them in the settlement of a multi-million estate (bank deposits and securities) in Germany.

Regarding German-British succession cases, we benefit from synergies in our law firm with German-American succession cases, on the one hand, and German-Canadian succession cases, on the other hand, since the respective regulations – with few exceptions in Quebec – also follow the regulations of the common law.

We know what a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is about, and what a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration means. This knowledge simplifies and accelerates many aspects in the estate settlement.

In other assignments, we dealt with the term “domicile” in the laws of England and Wales, among others in the framework of international succession planning and of the settlement of estates.

For our clients, these and further experiences with succession cases from the Anglo-American legal area are very valuable and also those from the cooperation with other foreign lawyers in estate settlements.

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We speak English and German.

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