10 FAQ on Inheritance Law in Germany

I have noticed that I receive many e-mails with the same questions, so I have started to post the most frequent questions – and of course the answers to them – for everyone to read for free. As this section might already answer many of your questions, I invite you to browse these FAQ before you contact me (or any other lawyer) about your case.

Before asking a new question, please read through the many comments which may already answer your questions. And if you find these FAQ useful or if you ask a new question, it would be very nice if you make a donation. Thank you! (After all, if you are on this page, you are about to receive a huge inheritance.)

1. Which law applies in international cases?

Germany applies the law of the citizenship of the deceased (Art. 25 I EGBGB), does however allow you to choose German law for real estate within Germany (Art. 25 II EGBGB).

2. Who inherits under German law if I have no will?

That depends on your family situation. If you have one surviving spouse and two children for example, the spouse will receive 50 % and the children will receive 25 % each. If you are single without children, your parents will inherit 50 % each. The more complicated your family situation, the more complicated the distribution.

3. I don’t like these quotas. Can I determine who gets the house, the car, my books and the dog?

Yes, you can. You will need to write a will for this purpose.

4. And how do I write a will?

The two main forms are the notarized will (which requires a notary public, of course) and the privately written will. They have equal validity.

The privately written testament has to be written by hand (no typing), signed and dated (§ 2247 BGB).

5. Can I change my will later?

Of course. You do this either by destroying it (if there is only one copy) or by writing a new one in which you include the explicit remark that this new will supersedes the old one. If you have filed your will with a notary public, you need to ask him to hand you the original testament back.

6. Can I disinherit my children / can my parents disinherit me?

German law has a system of “forced heirship” (§ 2303 BGB) which means that children, parents and the spouse are entitled to a certain minimum of the estate even if they are disinherited. So yes, you can express your wish to disinherit someone in your will, but he/she will still receive a legal minimum. Only in cases of gross misconduct on the part of the potential heir towards the deceased is it possible to exclude them completely (§ 2333 BGB).

7. If I have been disinherited, can I contest the will?

Yes, you can (§ 2078 BGB).

8. What if I don’t want to inherit?

If you don’t want to inherit (for example if the estate includes more debts than assets), you can refuse to accept the inheritance.

However, you need to explicitly declare that you reject the inheritance within 6 weeks of your knowledge of the inheritance (§ 1944 I, II BGB). If you live outside of Germany, this limitation period is 6 months (§ 1944 III BGB).

9. Does Germany tax inheritance?

You bet.

The tax rate depends on the amount inherited and on how closely related you were to the deceased. As a child, for example, 400.000 EUR are tax free. Above this threshold, the tax rate progresses from 7 % to 30 %. The maximum tax rate (for non-related heirs) is 50 %.

10. Who inherits if there are no relatives at all and no will has been made?

Guess who?

Exactly: the state in which the deceased had his last residence will inherit everything (§ 1936 BGB).

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Family Law, German Law, Germany, Law and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

357 Responses to 10 FAQ on Inheritance Law in Germany

  1. Pingback: FAQ on working with me as your lawyer | The Happy Hermit – Andreas Moser's Blog

  2. Pingback: 10 FAQ on divorce in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  3. Pingback: 10 FAQ on citizenship law in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  4. Pingback: 10 FAQ about child custody law in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  5. Pingback: 10 FAQ about filing a Constitutional Complaint in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  6. Pingback: 10 FAQ on international child abduction | The Happy Hermit

  7. Rachel M says:

    Hello Mr. Moser

    Does a life insurance policy count as an inheritance? If so, when a child inherits does their husband automatically get half of that or must that be specified in the will?

    Thank you


    • No, a life insurance is usually not part of the inheritance or the estate. But even for inheritance, I don’t see why the deceased child’s husband would receive any share in it. The husband is not related to the parents of his spouse and is therefore not entitled to inherit (unless specified in the will of course).

    • Elizabeth Moser says:

      Hello Mr. Moser

      My German half brother just died. We have the same mother. Our mother put me up for adoption and I was adopted by a family in America in 1965. I located him and my half sister in Germany. I have citizenship in both America and Germany. If I am not listed in the Testement, do I have rights to inherat as a half sibling? What do I have right to inherate and what is the percentage? Do I have rights to his personal effects?

      Thank you


    • As a (half-)sister, you would only be entitled to inherit if your (half-)brother had no child(ren).
      As a sibling you do not benefit from forced heirship, so if you were not mentioned in the testament, there is nothing that you can do about.

    • Elizabeth Moser says:

      So the §1755 does not apply to extinguishing my rights. My brother was not married and has no children. My half sister and I are the soul survivors.

    • § 1755 I BGB does apply in your case, but I wanted to answer the question in a more general way, so that others can benefit from it as well.

      Your (half-)brother was free to dispose of his assets any way he wanted in his testament.

  8. Peter Traks says:

    Mr Moser: I entered this question a few minutes ago under the wrong heading (divorce). Here it is again: I’m a German citizen living in Germany with a younger American wife. She has fears that my children ( from another spouse, who were born and live in America) might demand part of my assets when I die, which would effectively kick her out of our house. Would adding her name to the house and/or writing a will that excludes them suffice?

    • Hello Peter,
      to fully exclude your children, you would have to have good reasons. Because of the strong forced heirship in German law, it is terribly difficult to disinherit children completely.
      However, by excluding your children from your will, you limit them at least to half of what they would usually inherit.
      And yes, if you transfer part of your property (e.g. 50%) to your wife, then that part won’t be subject to inheritance in case of your death. (Of course you would then regret doing so if it ever came to a separation or a divorce, so that’s a very tricky question to answer in a general way).

    • Stuart says:

      Dear Andreas (if I may),

      Please could you advise whether under German Inheritance Law, a Stepchild is classified as a first class heir and therefore protected from disinheritance under German forced inheritance law?

      Thank you in keen anticipation of your help.

      Kindest regards


    • Hello Stuart,

      a stepchild has no inheritance rights at all because it has no legal ties to the stepfather or stepmother. It merely happens to live in the same house, but like its biological parent, it will probably be gone once the relationship breaks up.

      This all changes if the stepchild will get adopted. Then it will be treated like any biological child would be.

    • Stuart says:

      Hi Andreas,

      Thank you very much indeed for your rapid reply.

      The specific question I have is whether or not my aunt, whose biological father died some year ago, but was still married to my aunt’s stepmother, who never remarried, would be protected from disinheritance by her stepmother under German forced inheritance law?

      Or does it come down to whether or not my aunt was formally adopted by her stepmother?

      Thank you once again.


    • Adoption would indeed change everything, so I would need to know if it had occurred or not.
      But I would also need to see your aunt’s father’s last will because he might have appointed his new wife as primary heiress but your aunt as secondary heiress. In this case, the last will could overrule statutory law.

  9. Caroline Murphy says:

    Hi Andreas,my grandfather migrated to New Zealand from Germany, he married my grandmother and had my father. Both my fathers parents passed when he was young, he then was adopted out.
    I am 29 and have my grandfathers birth and death certificates , my fathers birth certificate and adoption papers and also mine. Would I be eligible to apply for a german passport. Currently a citizen to New Zealand as that is where I was born. I am also looking into changing my surname to my grandfathers german name.

  10. Pingback: FAQ on Naturalization in Germany from Abroad | The Happy Hermit

  11. Milan Filipovic says:

    Our aunt passed away six months ago and to the best of our knowledge she left no property behind her in Germany. She was a Serbian citizen who had residence in Germany but in fact spend the last two years of her life in Serbia where we took care of her as she was dying of cancer. We received a letter from her bank stating she had an overdraft of 1000 euros on her bank account and that we should pay it. When she passed away we promptly notified the German embassy in Serbia and as to their instructions her pension and health insurance carriers in Germany. Even though there was no specification in the letter as to how and when this overdraft happened the amount sums up to six month of her rent in Germany where she had a long term rental of a room. When she died we had our aunts friend in Germany notify her landlord as well as the bank and we also believed when the pension stopped the bank would stop paying out the long term rental. Germany applies the law of citizenship of the deceased. By Serbian law there is no deadline after which it is assumed that we accepted the inheritance with debts and also by the same law we should not be liable for the debt that is greater that the assets unless we expressly accept it in a court of law. We are not legal or testatory heirs of our aunts. My mother had a contract with her aunt that stated that my mother would take care of her aunt in sickness and in health and also take care of her burial her when she passed away and in return she would get her aunts apartment in Serbia. These contracts are permissible by Serbian law and the real estate in them is exempted from deceased’s estate.
    Are we liable for the debt?

    • Rob says:

      My German father,who lived in Germany, has recently died in Germany. I live in the UK. My father was divorced from my mother & he remarried but had no other children.
      I want to obtain a copy of his will (I know there is one) but without asking his wife.
      How can I obtain a copy of his will from London, UK?
      Many thanks and very much appreciate any help!

    • You can contact the estate court (“Amtsgericht/Nachlassgericht”) at the place where he last lived.

    • Rob says:

      You are very kind for getting back to me, thank you

  12. Lisa Marschall says:

    Mr Moser
    does a nephew or niece have any entitlement to an inheritance? The deceased lived with his girlfriend for 25 years but did not marry for financial reasons. His will gives her everything but a small sum to the nephews. she is partial owner of the house and has power of attorney over all of his assets. can the nephews fight her for control? and would they have a chance of winning?

    Lisa Marschall

    • Nephews and nieces are usually entitled to inherit, but in this case they were (partially) excluded by the will. Nephews and nieces are not protected by the forced-heirship clause (see no. 6 of the FAQ), so they cannot contest the will for that reason.

  13. Peter Holmes says:

    My wife’s father, a German citizen living in Germany, left a condition in his will to his two daughters that nothing he left would ever pass to their husbands or to his grandchildren’s spouses. Do they have to continue to abide by this condition?

    • It is possible to set up such a testament under German law if your wife’s father used “Vorerbschaft” and “Nacherbschaft”, that is if he specifically appointed somebody who would inherit after his daughters’ death.
      Of course there are some ways around this, especially if your wife doesn’t want to wait until her death with the disposition of her property.
      I would need to read the will to give you a definitive answer. You can mail it to me at moser@moser-law.com.

  14. Simon shrigley says:

    Hi andreas,

    My wife comes from Germany. Her father died in debt. We live in Guernsey Channel Islands UK with 2 children . My wife has formally rejected his inheritance (so not to have the debt ). I need to reject the inheritance to ensure myself and the children are not liablr but due to cost can’t travel to Germany. I believe a UK consulate can witness my signature to document my rejection of the will however what paperwork do i need to sign to ensure it is all done correctly?

    • You yourself do not need to reject the inheritance because you are not related to your wife’s father and thus not entitled to inherit (unless he specifically awarded something to you in his will).

      But, depending, on whether your wife has any siblings who assumed the inheritance, your children might be next in line. You and your wife may then reject the inheritance on their behalf. You can do this at a notary or at the German Consulate. There is no special form that you need to sign, but your declaration needs to specify the deceased, the inheritance, your two children and that you and your wife are acting on their behalf.

      Remember that the deadline is 6 months (§ 1944 III BGB) and in the case of your children, these 6 months began when your wife rejected the inheritance (again depending on whether there were other siblings and depending on what they did).

      Greetings to Guernsey where I once spent a beautiful hiking holiday!

    • Danny Heinisch says:

      Hi Andreas, My Uncle (in Germany) passed away and all his relatives in that country rejected his inheritance do to outstanding real estate debt, i live in Canada as well as my parents whom now are asked to receive this inheritance(which they will have to decline at the German consulate in Toronto ) will it keep going down the line to children until they get a response?If the letters come in the mail and i don’t open them or respond(they are NOT registered letters) do they have any legal recourse?DAN

    • As I have pointed out on previous answers, not opening letters is (a) childish and (b) stupid, because then you won’t even know what’s in it. And obviously the sender won’t really be impressed by you not opening it.

    • Simon shrigley says:

      For everyones information the documents needed to decline the testament are online at the German embassy london website.

  15. Russell says:

    My wife’s father was a German citizen and had passed away and we are in the US. We are wanting to know if there is a form that we can get to decline the heirloom? Also we are being told that we need to have a lawyer to fill out some papers to include with our declination paper. Is this true?

    • You do not need to use any specific form and you need no lawyer, but the declaration needs to be notarized, so you either need to go to the estate court (in Germany) or to one of the German consulates.

      Your wife has 6 months to do this. You personally don’t need to do anything (unless you are mentioned in the testament) because you are not legally related to your wife’s father.
      However, if you have children and you also wish to decline the inheritance on their behalf, then you both need to sign this declaration if you have shared custody (which you usually do if you are married).

  16. Juss VA says:

    Hello Andreas,
    My aunty was a German citizen having lived in West Germany for 15 years as a German nurse later retiring down to India. My aunty was the younger sister of my Mother she later lived with us in India after returning from West Germany and always wished to help us to take to Germany which she could not. She expired on dec 2005 in India and i received a letter from German embassy relating to her social security number and pension details which is still active.
    Now she is no more and i wish to immigrate to Germany being the real nephew of my aunty who was a German citizen can i apply for Germany residency or citizenship or immigrate to Germany please throw light on this. how strong would be my case.

    Juss va

    • The only thing that could help your chances of immigrating to Germany was if your aunt taught you to speak German because then you might have it easier to get into university in Germany or find a job there. Apart from that, this background is really irrelevant for immigrating to Germany.

  17. Andrea says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,

    My grandmother passed away about 2 years ago. She was not married and had only one child, my father. My father passed 10 years ago leaving my widowed mother and 4 children, including myself. My grandmother was a German citizen who resided in India for many years and passed there. Recently, I have been asked by a relative of mine if I have received any notification from anyone regarding German inheritance from my grandmother. My relative keeps telling me that I should be hearing something soon, but I have not and I’m not even sure who I should hear from. Being that this involves Germany and I’m in the US, I’m not really sure where to begin with this or if being that she died 2 years ago, too much time has passed to even look into it further. Please advise or if you can give me a site that relates and I can do further research, that would be much appreciated as well. Thank you!


  18. Kay Rose says:

    Hello! Our deceased German grandparents have land in Germany that a company is wishing to purchase. We have one first cousin still living in Germany, and he has contacted us about this as our deceased mother inherited the land along with her brother and sister (our cousin’s mother). We have been receiving (lease?) payments over the years, but it is now being sold. We are all wondering if our deceased brother and sister’s adult children are entitled to proceeds from this sale. The three of us are the only surviving grandchildren, all in our 60s. Thanks for any advice!

    • Who owns the property? The land register should show that, and then we can take it from there.

    • Kay Rose says:

      The German cousin’s parents (who are deceased) and my mother (also deceased).

    • Dead people can’t own property. How long ago did they pass away? I would be surprised if the land register hasn’t been amended to show the heirs as owners.

      It sounds like I would need to take a look at all the paperwork (land register, last wills, contracts and so on) to be able to answer your question.

  19. Pingback: 10 FAQ on Freedom of Movement in the EU | The Happy Hermit

  20. Roula Bandak says:

    Dear Sir,
    My uncle (mother’s brother) passed away in 1991.He wrote a joint will with his wife.
    The will gave my mother a part of the inheritance when they they both died.The will is not attested from Notary Public, it has only my uncle and his wife’s signature, will it be legally recognized?
    Who can the will be presented to to claim the inheritance?
    According to German law, will my uncle’s inheritance automatically go to his wife as they have no children? if so then everything will be in the uncle’s wife name , so if she dies, will the ‘Will’ made by her and my uncle still be effective?
    How can we prove that part of her inheritance was my uncle’s?

    • A handwritten will is absolutely sufficient (see no. 4 of the above FAQ).
      You would present it to the Local Court (“Amtsgericht”) of the city/county where the deceased last lived.
      Subject to the exact wording of the will, § 2271 II BGB bars your uncle’s wife from changing the will after his death (with lots of exceptions of course, as always in law).

  21. John Gille says:

    I am an American born German. I have German citizenship. I speak a little bit of German. I take colleges at Hunter College in NYC Sometimes I meet “real’ Germans who live here. I met a German once. They usually do not talk to me in German at and they hardly speak to me in English. I saw this guy that got assaulted. I told him that the USA is indifferent to German Nationals and you should leave. He does not listen. Sometimes they die or go to jail here. I am not a “real” one but sometimes some of us have issues here too. I know that Germany seems to let everyone and there brother live in Germany and they seem to ignore us. I think they should address this issue here in the US of A. I know the state of Florida is really bad too. I think it could be close to how we have to live in Namibia, Chile or Brazil.

  22. Gerhard Jene says:

    Dear Sir
    I have no idea as to when my grandfather died on my father’s side. His wife died approx. 20 years. I have no idea if they owned any property or rented. My father or his sisters never told me much on this subject since he and my mother divorced while I was still a child. My father died in 2005, 1 sister died in 2010 and the other sister the following year. From what I understand from a letter that my deceased aunt had sent me some yrs ago, there is a cousin (who had a child that is now deceased) still living in Ennigerloh. I do not know if this cousin had any other children or not and her husband is also deceased. How would I go about finding out what happened to her since I barely speak German and I do have her last known address. I am aware that she did receive a Christmas card I had sent to her about a year or so before my aunt had died. She is apparently related by marriage to a son of my grandfather’s sister. I did inherit German citizenship at the time I was born. The point is, as a cousin, if I were to inherit anything, where would I fall in the different category regarding inheritance. I am not really interested in claiming anything, but am curious. As far as my grandparents go, from my father’s side, I do not know if they retained their German citizenship or not, since my grandmother died in Canada. I have no idea where or when my grandfather died.


    • There are a bit too many unknowns for me to analyze your legal situation. You would need to start contacting the relatives whom you know and ask them to fill in the many blanks.

  23. Gerhard Jene says:

    Thanks for your quick reply. It was worth asking. I tried to fill you in as best I could based on what I knew already. I was checking into rules and regulations on German inheritance to see what was involved and what my chances would have been. My situation would be too involved for to little or nothing in return. Besides, it was a long shot anyways.

    • Never research the rules before you know the facts. You will find thousands of rules, but you/I have no idea which ones will apply because we don’t know the facts.

      It’s like calling a doctor, telling her “I have no idea what I have, but maybe my left leg is bleeding, although it might be that I am sneezing. Last night, or maybe a year ago, I had to throw up. I may or may not be allergic to X, and I may or may not have eaten X. It’s possible that I do have a history of MS, but I can’t remember. Please help me!”

  24. Ursula Schroeder says:

    In July of 2012, my german Aunt passed away. She had no will and my father was dealing with german probate. At the time both my father and his younger brother were still alive and were to inherit 50% of her remaining estate with no debts. Before the inheritance was finalized my father passed away in March of 2014 in Canada. My step mother was informed that she now would be the beneficiary of my Aunt’s estate, my father did have a will and gave everything to my stepmother. No problem there. Now my stepmother has received a new letter from the german probate stating that he was notified in October of 2014 that my dad’s younger brother passed away in February of 2014. He died with no will and more debt that his 50% of my Aunts estate. Are these not considered two separate inheritances and is my stepmother responsible for any of my uncle’s debt over and above his estate? She is a Canadian citizen. Thank you for your help.
    Ursula Schroeder

    • I would need to know the citizenship and place of residence of all persons involved and take a look at the wills and the letters you received.
      I charge 400 EUR for such a consultation.

  25. Max says:

    Hi Mr. Moser,

    How much can a lawyer & executor charge for taking care on an inheritance case that will take 7-8 years. My father’s last will is that I get to manage all his properties when I turned 30 years old. So for now, only the lawyer & one executor are looking after what my father has left.

  26. Else says:

    My grandmother and step-grandfather signed a Joint Will in Germany listing the sole heirs as their 3 grandchildren, and excluding our mother. After my grandmother died, through German law, my mother was allowed to receive her “forced inheritance.” 2o years later our step-grandfather died in Germany and the original Will was held valid, listing the heirs again as the 3 grandchildren. One of the grandchildren died young, was never married, and had no children. Does his 1/3 share pass to the remaining 2 listed grandchildren, or could our mother step in and claim his share through another “forced inheritance” because he was a minor at the time of his death?

  27. Michelle fairweather says:

    Hello, I was just notified that I am a quarter share heiress of my grandmother who died in 1975. My father died in 1974. He was 1 of 4 children. They have requested my marriage certificate and are looking to issue a certificate of inheritance. I think it includes some property that may now be in dispute as some parties wish to sell and one does not. I am assuming I will need to help make a decision.
    Do all heirs have to agree on sale? Also do i have some extra claim on property because i Was not notified for 40 years and I was in contact with some heirs until 1991 and then again for last 3 years without informing me as i am in Australia and have never lived in Germany? thanks

  28. Kelly Cafftenade says:

    Hi Andreas,
    I live outside Germany, my aunt lived in Germany and just before her death married her second husband, as she knew she would die soon and that would avoid taxes. They both told me that I would inherit whatever was left when the survivor finally died. When she died, I received a copy of the Testament from the Amstgericht. There is a sentence I don’t quite understand, “Jeder vons uns beruft, sowohl fur den Fall, dass er der Laengstlebende von uns ist, als auch fuer den Fall, dass wir gleichzeiting oder kurz hintereinander aus dem gleichen Anlass versterben, zu seinen Erben…Mrs XXXX There is also something about changing the will, “Das recht zum Widerruf erlischt mit dem Tode des anderen Ehegatten. Das testament kann also danach nicht mehr geandert werden” I know that they did not change the will before my aunt died, so does this mean my uncle could not change the will?
    Her husband, (my uncle therefore by marriage), just died, it seems he left some typed ramblings of a will, not notarized, but I have no idea what happens now. I do not know if he made a new official will, and don’t know if he could exclude me. My aunt said that it was sure that I would be the heir. (She had a house which he later sold, and I was to get half of the profit). I called the Notar who prepared the will for both aunt and uncle, they will not give me any information over the phone. They said, call the Amtsgericht. I have done that and sent an email, but no one will tell me what happens now. Will they contact me, does that first official will have any value? Can I contest the will? My uncle had no children, just a niece, who never had much contact with him.
    I really have no idea what to do next.

  29. Monica says:


    My grandparents of my father had a home in Germany. My father passed away when i was young. His parents, my grandparents are now deceased. The sister of my father is deceased and her husband lives in the home of my grandparents. He says it is his? I live in Canada. How could i find out if this is true?

  30. cathy says:

    Hi Andreas,
    My husband and I moved to Germany from Ireland in December 14 with two children as his 85 year old father called him regularly asking him to come home son and take over your house!
    15 months later we are living in the same house as his now 87 year old father and his wife of 9 years.
    My husband signed a form when his mother died stating he would not ask for his inheritance while his father was living. He was told his mother and father both had him as the sole inheritor.
    His father has remarried a woman who has very openly stated the marriage was purely for monetary gain and they have a contract whereby this woman has the right to live here in part of the house or we have to pay 80.000 to buy her out.
    Is there a possibility my husband will lose all of his inheritance_

  31. Karl says:

    Allo Mr Moser,
    My dad died in August with no will. I appointed his wife as power of attorney for myself and my English sister and the erbschein declares 50% to his Frau, 25% to me and 25% to my sister. However, the Frau has said that she contributed more than the 50% allocated under the erbschein to an Investment in my fathers sole name. She can’t prove this and the bank agrees it should be split as per the erbschein. Would she stand any chance of getting this overruled? Also, I found out she withdrew over 5,000 euros without our permission before we cancelled her power of attorney and it turned out after we contacted the bank directly that she lied to us regarding the amount of investment held in the banks dear my dads name. Would this constitute inheritance fraud?

    Appreciate your help and if your ever buy property in the UK I will return the favour! Karl

  32. jenny says:

    Hi, I am English and I married a german man in italy In 2006. We later split up and he wouldn’t divorce me. I went on to meet someone else and have children and contuined to live in our joint house that my husband and I bought together, but he stopped paying for the joint house in 2009.
    He died in april this year of a heart attack so didn’t have a will.
    I have no proof but have been told he has tax debts of 200,000 euro tax debt?
    He was a doctor and had a work pension a private pension scheme and a life insurance policy. But I do think this was in the name of his only daughter.
    I do not have any documentation on any of these.
    what will happen to his share of the house? Will his debts die with him?
    I am finding it hard for anyone to help me.
    thank you in advance

    • The debts remain, but to fully answer your question, I would need to know where the house was, which country he died in and take a look at the loan agreement and other paperwork.
      I charge 200 € for such a consultation.

  33. John Z. says:

    Dear Andreas: My fiancee is an American citizen who has lived in the U.S. since 1990-ish. Her father is a German citizen currently in a nursing-type facility in Germany. He had fell ill last October and can no longer live alone. My fiancee lived in Germany until the age of 9 or 10. She was not born there. Her parents divorced and she then moved to the United States. Her father was not involved in her upbringing nor did he ever financially support her in any fashion. She became a U.S. citizen and turned in her German passport to the German consulate ten years ago. She is therefore no longer a German citizen. She went to visit her father for a week after he fell ill. She was given the info of his newly appointed legal guardian who has since contacted her to keep her up to date on her father’s condition. Just a few days ago, my fiancee received a letter in the mail entitled “Gewaehrung von Sozialhilfe fuer Ihren Vatern…” The letter seems to imply that pursuant to Section 94 Abs. 4 Satz 1 SGB XII, she is responsible for the financial costs of the nursing home facility. The letter seems to imply that they have a right to inquire about her financial income in America. My fiancee also has a step-brother and step-sister who live in Germany but she doesn’t know their whereabouts. In either case, do you have any knowledge regarding whether an American citizen with a German parent can be made to pay health care costs for the German parent in Germany in this type of situation? Her father is still alive and in this nursing facility. Thanks for your help and advice.

    • John Z. says:

      clarification: her siblings are HALF-brother and sister (same father)

    • I will keep my answer brief because it has really nothing to do with inheritance law. I shall set up a separate set of FAQ on the subject of financial support for parents one day.
      German law does indeed provide for children supporting their parents once the parents are in financial need (usually if they are in a care home and can’t pay anymore).
      There are a few defences against this however, such as that the father in the present case did not his daughter in any way.
      Another point to consider is whether the US would recognize and enforce a judgement against your fiancee (unless she still has assets in Germany).
      Lastly, if your fiancee doesn’t have a huge income or a ton of assets, she doesn’t need to worry anyway and might as well provide the requested information.
      If you want, she can e-mail me the letter and we can set up a consultation over Skype and speak about everything in detail. Of course I can also draft the reply. I would charge 250 € for this.

    • John Z. says:

      Thank you Andreas. That’s very helpful. Are you still in good standing with the legal bar in Germany? If so, I think my fiancee would like to set up a consultation via Skype. Thanks again!

    • I haven’t been a member of the bar since 2009, when I left Germany.

  34. Kirsten says:

    Hi Andreas,

    I am an australian citizen by naturalisation (my parent emigrated to Australia in 1963). As of 1981 I am back in Germany, since 1992 married to a german. My father is deceased and my mother has disinherited me because she gave us money in the last 10 years. Now she has gone into a home and is in the paliative department, so that her lifespan is limited after years of cancer.
    She can still pay for all her needs and for the home. What happens when she passes away and has debts at the home, can we be forced to pay back what she gifted us?

    Thanks – would you have preferred this in german?


  35. Dieter says:

    Hello, I am a German citizen. My wife and I married in 1994 in Frankfurt Germany.
    In 1994 my mother passed away. As part of my inheritance, she left me 3 parcels of land in Frankfurt and I received a small amount of money from her life insurance policy. At the time, I was told that my wife would not be entitled to make a claim against any portion of my inheritance as my mother stipulated that the property would be exempt under family laws rules and the life insurance portion passed to me was also exempt.
    In 2009 my wife left me for another man. We have not divorced since that time and she now advises that she will make a claim against the lands and inheritance funds that I received from my mother. Can she do this? Could you please provide me with a link that I may go to, to refer to my lawyer. I now reside in Canada and do not know who to turn to.

    Thank you. Dieter 😃

    • Inherited property – but not its increase in value – is protected under German law (§ 1374 II BGB), but the tricky question is under which law you will get divorced. If you live in Canada, I am not sure if the Canadian court would apply German law.

  36. Dieter says:

    Sorry, my wife and I married in 1991 and my mother passed away in 1994.
    Any information you can provide is so appreciated.


  37. Ilse pappas says:

    I have US and German citizenship. May I handwrite a will that leaves all my German property to my daughter? We would leavemy son equal value inheritance in the US. They are both in agreement and this would be the simplest thing forme to do since my daughter has connections to Germany but my som foes not. Thanks fot any input, German notaries are so expensive.

  38. Marlis Arkcoll says:

    I have a German passport and currently live in South Africa. My uncle, who is German and lives in Germany is single with no children. He has a brother in Brazil, a sister and a niece from a deceased sister in Germany.

    I have a brother in Peru and a deceased brother whose children live in Brazil.

    Who will inherit from my uncle?


  39. Roy Jones says:

    Mr. Moser, my mother went back to Germany after my father died. She remarried. My step-father has no children. My mother died May of 2014. She left her assets to him. My step-father died July 5th of this year. My mother’s sister had my stepfather write me out of his will and leave everything to her. Am I not entitled to my mother’s half of the estate?

    • 1) It depends on your mother’s will.
      2) But even if your mother excluded you from her will, you as her son would be entitled to half of your statutory share under the principle of forced heirship.

  40. Lynn says:

    HI Andreas

    My mother married a German and moved to Germany. They bought a house togheter and where married over 20 years before she passed. When she passed away I got the will from the German Goverment asking me if I wish to countest it since in the will it said that I could not claim my part of the house until her husband died. He was a very shaddy man but I didn’t want him to have to sell the house for me to get my share and decided to wait until he did to get my inheritance. 3 Years later I find out that he is remarried and not living in that house anymore. So I’m wondering what happens to my share of that house. Can he sell it without my conscent? if so i’m I entitled to half of the selling price ? what are my options?


    • I would need to look at the exact wording of the testament and possibly also the ownership situation in the land registry, as well as your correspondence from back then.

      I charge 200 EUR for such a consultation.

  41. Cassandra says:

    Hi Sir Andreas,
    Good day.my husband is a German citizen,he died last April 7 of 2013,and he left a holographic will that there is 3 benefiaciary sister,son.and me the wife written in will.i have only a photo copy of the will.i don’t have any idea what I’m going to do till now.can I get a public lawyer to help me?and I’m worry because it’s 2 years already since my husband died.but the son they don’t inform me of what’s going on about the will.still I can get my share written in the will?can I claim the life insurance of my husband?my husband has patent what I’m going do?I live outside Germany
    But this August I’ll be in Germany soon.

    Thank you so much

  42. Gerhard Jene says:

    Dear Sir

    I have an older cousin living in Ennigerloh. I am not sure if his parents are related to my grandfather or grandmother (parents of my father). I sent a card at Christmas 2014 using the exact address I was given by another relative. The card was returned unopened. That means either the person is deceased or moved to a nursing home. I can prove my relationship to my grandparents since I have the appropriate documentation. My cousin had one child that I was made aware of. Unfortunately, this child predeceased his parents. Where can I obtain information to indicate if my cousin is in a nursing home or deceased? If deceased, How can I find out about the will or estate? I do have dual citizenship Germany.

    • The first thing would be to contact the public registrar (“Einwohnermeldeamt”) of the municipality where your cousin last lived.
      If they were to inform you that he deceased, then you can contact the local estate court (“Nachlassgericht”).

    • AAEAR says:

      I just wanna ask if i can get a inherit from a german.? Every year my german stay with me for 7months within 5yrs..we get married in our house is like house wedding but the priest didn’t registered cause of legal capacity from him (german) even though we stay together as a husband and wife for 5yrs ( 7months every yr).. he died last April 27,2015 here in the Philippines with me..what is my rights to get a part what hr left or inherit should i get..?

    • It depends on the testament of the deceased.

  43. Gerhard Jene says:


    • Gerhard Jene says:

      Dear Sir
      I tried to telephone and talk with someone at the Einwohnermeldeamt and they failed to understand wha.t I was after. I also sent a message through their facebook site near the end of August and failed to elicit a response. What is the best format for me to use to request the appropriate information in a letter? Like I have said before, I am uncertain which grandparent the relationship is through. Danke

    • Yes, a letter is best.
      I can write it for you in German, but I charge 200 EUR for an initial consultation.

    • Gerhard Jene says:

      Dear Sir

      I found out that the relatives I have in Ennigerloh are now deceased. Their respective dates of death are unknown on my part. I am just waiting for someone to return to work by July 11, 2016 and I may be able to obtain death certificates for both. That way I can determine with a little more accuracy which one was related to one of my grandparents. I may require assistance on your part, once I can get those documents, in order to get a copy of the will or information as to what happened to their estate and as to who may have inherited it. As for any living relatives I have from my fathers’ side, 1 cousin claims he does not know and the other 2 have made no attempts at communication since our respective parents have passed on and I have tried to locate them in order to communicate with them. So, is the 200 Euro for the letter still relevant? Thanks.

  44. Altan Halil says:

    Hi Andreas
    Very informative site – I am British in a Civil partnership and have no children and my parents are deceased. I have one elderly brother. I live in Germany with my partner. With the changes in EU succession law Brussels IV, I understand that I now need to stipulate if I wish the succession laws of the country of my citizenship to apply in my Will. I have done this in with UK Will as all my assets are in the UK. I have no German Will. My question is, do I need to make a German Will or is there a more simpler solution like a statement of some kind or will my UK Will be accepted. I wish to leave all my estate to my partner only.

    Thank you so much

    • Good and timely question! But because of the Brussels IV Regulation entering into effect this month, I will have to write a whole new article soon. Stay tuned!

    • Altan Halil says:

      Thanks for the response. Hope you can cover some of the issues I raised

  45. Sharon says:

    Dear Mr. Moser,
    How long after the passing of a person who wrote a will, and left his assets to one heir (not a relative) could the remaining relatives demand 50%?
    Also, regarding inheritance taxes, could a status of a Lebenspartner ( supported by different documents and signed by the deceased) could be matched with the one of a married wife?
    Thank you

    • 1) You have three years (§ 195 BGB), beginning from the end of the year in which you learnt of your relative’s death.
      2) “Lebenspartner” within the meaning of the Erbschaftssteuergesetz is only the registered same-sex partner.

  46. Christopher Spearman says:

    I just received word from a distant relative that my grandmother in Germany has passsed. How do i go about dealing with her estate and any inheritance? I am in USA and do not know how i go about obtaining any information on the death or her will.

  47. Georgina neumann says:

    Hello, I live in England. My German father died last November, his step mother inherited all his father’s (my grandfathers) money when he died, my grandmother (my fathers step mother) has recently died, I have been told her money will go to my cousins (my father’s brother’s children) and nothing to my brother and I, is this correct? Is there anything I can do? Thank you

    • How can your father’s stepmother be your grandmother?

      This sounds like a very convoluted situation. I would need to know who was married to whom when, who died when, who was born when, and so on. I would need to charge my consultation fee of 200 EUR to sort this out.

  48. Georgina neumann says:

    The lady who married my grandfather is my grandmother, she was my father’s stepmother, she inherited everything Several years ago and has recently died, I have been told all the money will go to my uncle’s children, I just wanted to know if I was entitled to anything, thanks

    • I think your father’s real mother would be your grandmother. You can’t get more grandmothers by your grandfather re-marrying.
      This distinction is important because there is no legal relationship between step-parents and step-(grand-)children.

  49. Elizabeth says:

    My husband’s mother received a call today (in Berlin) from an “inheritance investigator” claiming that my husband is the potential heir of 55,000 Euro from someone on his father’s side of the family. His father died when he was three and he didn’t know that side of the family. My mother-in-law gave the investigator my husband’s email. They emailed an extensive contract and indicated that they will receive a fee of roughly 30% if the inheritance goes through. It all seems like a scam to me, though their website seems legitimate. 1. Have you heard of these sort of companies in Germany and are they legit? 2. If this news is legitimate, couldn’t my husband do some investigative work to try to find out where the inheritance if coming from and claim it? 3. Also a year ago he received American citizenship and lost his German citizenship (that’s a longer story). Would him being an American citizen impact this?

    • 1) You are right to be suspicious. That sounds very much like a scam. Usually the estate court will notify relatives or other people who were mentioned in a will. Also, the court would not necessarily know the amount of money involved as the court only determines the quota by which the different relatives inherit.
      2) You are right again. With a bit of investigation into the family tree, it should be easy to find out who died recently and who is still alive.
      3) Your husband’s citizenship has no impact on him inheriting in Germany or from a German citizen. It might complicate the tax situation a little bit, but let’s cross that bridge when we get there.

  50. Susan says:

    I recently found out that my biological father is a German citizen. I always was suspicious, but I finally out through my mother’s admission…I am now 43 years old. My birth certificate lists my mother’s husband, a U.S. citizen, as my father. My mother is a German citizen and she was separated from her husband for about a year when I was conceived. I was born in the U.S. and am a U.S. citizen. I have made contact with my biological father. He is married and has one adult, yet handicapped, son. He has now offered me a “gift” of $30,000 U.S. in exchange for renouncing my heritage and my succession’s heritage to him. I do not know very much about the forced heirship of Germany, but understand that I am entitled to an inheritance from him. I do not know his financial situation, but I believe that he has money. I feel hurt and insulted by his offer. I received nothing from him my entire life and now he wants to buy me out. I had a difficult childhood filled with struggle. I was despised and mistreated by the man who I thought was my father. What legal recourse do I have? Neither of us have asked for a paternity test. Can I find out information about his assets? I know his address and I know that he owns a house. Thank you.

    • Everything depends on the establishment of legal paternity. Without legal paternity, biological paternity is irrelevant in inheritance law.
      Once paternity is established (for which no test is needed if he acknowledges paternity), you have the same rights to inheritance (including forced heirship as described in my FAQ above) as the other child(ren).
      You have no right to find out anything about your father’s assets because as long as he isn’t dead, there is no inheritance. After all, you might die first or he might give away or lose all of his assets. Therefore the decision on whether to accept the offer of the buy-out is always based on speculation.

    • Susan says:

      Thank you for the information. Are these “buy-outs” common in Germany? I mentioned to my biological father that I am learning about forced heirship being the law in Germany. He said yes that is the law, but that most children do not insist on it. Is that true?

    • I wouldn’t say that most children don’t insist on it. There is no statistical data on it. What does happen frequently is that children waive their right if the other parent is still alive (and the parents are married), so that in the father’s death all property goes to the mother and the children will ultimately inherit from the mother. I would however always advise against that because Mom can squander the assets in the meantime or get married again and complicate matters.
      The buy-outs are not uncommon, particularly if the parents want to transfer real estate or a family business to only one child. And, from the children’s perspective, a payment now is often more useful than an uncertain payment at an uncertain time.

  51. Carla says:

    Hello Andreas,

    By way of background my grandmother was one of five children – her parents died in 1975 and 1977 leaving behind a family farm house. Of the five children, only one son remained in the family home with his wife. Today that wife (my grandmother’s sister in law) lives in the house alone as her husband (my grandmother’s brother) has passed away.

    I am seeking to understand if my grandmother and her siblings (and their descendants) have any entitlement to the family home. I am assuming that the house is now in the brother’s (or his wife’s) name as it has been many years since my grandmother’s parents’ passed.

    Specifically, I am seeking to understand if my grandmother’s descendants have any entitlement to claim their share of the house (assuming that they were left out of the initial will in 1975/77 under the forced inheritance rules?

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind regards,

    • That’s quite a complicated situation with so many relatives involved, so I would appreciate a donation (see the button on the top right) before I answer it.
      Thank you!

  52. Dean says:

    Great information. Thank you for providing.
    My wife who is from Germany, came to America nearly 3 decades ago. She is a U.S. citizen having given up her German citizenship and passport all those years ago.

    Her mother passed away last week. There are no other children, Spouse, etc…
    My question is regarding German Inheritance law regarding debt’s etc… We know there is nothing of financial value, and her mother most likely has a lot of debt. But if my wife wants childhood photos, family documents etc… she has to take on ownership of all of the debt?

    I hate to be blunt, but since my wife is not a German citizen, can the debts truly be imposed on her?

    Thank you for your time.

    • 1) Unfortunately, she can only accept the estate as a total or decline it completely. She cannot pick certain items and decline the rest of the inheritance, particularly the debts.

      2) The possibility of debts does not depend on her citizenship, but on whether she has assets or an income that anyone could enforce against. If all the assets are in the US, the creditor would need to get a German judgment recognized and enforced in the US, which they may very well never do if it’s not worth it or too complicated for them.

      3) As a practical matter, if there is nobody else to inherit, our wife can simply go there, take what she wants and then decline the inheritance as a whole. With no other heir around, nobody will complain.

  53. Maria Shella Pulter says:

    My aunt, a Filipina, was legally married in 1991 to a German citizen whose marriage was both certified in the Philippines and in Germany. Her husband died in 1997 while she was in the Philippines. (She had lived in Germany and visited the Philippines every now and then) After his death, she has never remarried as well as bothered to go back to Germany to take care of his real estate properties, pension, and insurance claims until recently. She says her husband hates debts and owns farms and other properties in Berlin. They also have accounts in several banks including Sparkasse. My question is being the sole heir (specified in her passport) can she still claim all assets he left? Is there like a deadline on which date you need to claim your inheritance in Germany? She is now broke and can’t afford to pay for a plane ticket nor spend top dollar to pay for atty’s fees. She made mention of sharing a percentage of her inheritance to someone who can help. Pertinent documents are ready if you want to look into her case. Your answer is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

  54. janice says:

    Hello Andreas,
    My mother is a German born Canadian citizen (for over 55 years) She has inherited some land in Germany that she does not want…the 6 months have passed (really more like 18 months)and she has declined any further registered mail…She does not fully understand the paperwork involved as she is a senior…what kind of recourse can the German government have if she just ignores them?

    • If she doesn’t want it, someone else (e.g. you) will get the property.

      But, and this goes beyond your mother’s case, declining registered mail is not a clever thing. First, you won’t learn what it is inside the mail, and second, by declining you acknowledge that you could have received it and you will be treated as if you have been properly served.

      By being obstinate, your mother may make it much harder for the next heir to get title of the property.

  55. Carol says:

    Mr. Moser,
    8 years ago my father’s assets were distributed among his daughters, me being one of them. Apparently I have a half brother from my father who never received his share (we didn’t know he existed.) Later he died and the children of HIS mother’s sister say they are entitled to a share of my fathers assets from 8 years ago, and wish to settle by taking they’re share out of the new inheritance from my half brother…who has no children.
    Curious about your thoughts.
    Thank you.

  56. Betty says:

    Hello, my elderly (78 years old) mother in law is a widow and has three children. Two out of the three no longer wish to speak to her, one lives in Thailand and the other around 3-4 hours from here. My husband, who is the only one child speaking to her, looks after her and makes sure she has want she needs as she is no longer able to drive and lives alone and with her frail health it’s hard for her to use public transport. My mother in law wishes to leave everything she has after her death to my husband and not the other two children. Can my mother in law disinherit the two children that have been verbally abusing her so that they are not entitled to anything. I know that there is something about only if they have enflicted ‘gross misconduct’ on her. What is the definition of gross misconduct in this siutation?

    • We have to distinguish between disinheriting the other children and excluding them from forced heirship. For the latter, the bar is really high.

      I’ll be happy to respond to this in detail once I receive a donation (see top right corner of this page).

    • Betty says:

      What do you mean by the bar?

    • The standard that needs to be met.

  57. Alecs says:

    Hi, My Father who was a German national passed away I believed about 6-7 months ago in the Philippines where he has been living for many years. He is separated from my Filipina mother for many years too but not divorced. We have no specific address or where and how he really died as I can only imagine how impossible it is to find out where he live or died in a country like that where its over populated and he wont even be a statistic. We heard that he died in his home so I guess he would not been registered in a hospital! My mum still lives in the Philippines and me and my sister have been here in the UK for more than a decade. Now my questions is who or how do we find out if he left a will or who do we notify in Germany that he passed away as we suspect that the Filipina woman he’s been living for a few year with is still claiming for his pension. Would we get any of his pension? Thank you in advance for any help.

    • Particularly on the subject of inheritance law, where questioners expect a financial gain from my research, my time, my experience, my knowledge and my efforts, I don’t answer questions without receiving a donation. You find the “Make a Donation” button on the top right corner of this blog.

  58. I am a 81 year old legally separated Canadian citizen, born in Germany and inherited 1/2 of an apartment block with one of my brothers in Germany. The other brother Hans got his share at the time my parents passed away. I want to leave my half of the property to my brother Werner who is 78. I have three children who will share my valuable estate in Canada. Here they would get a huge sum in Canada. My brother can not afford to pay the 20% inheritance tax. I like my brother to be able to stay in the house, where he lives. He currently gets all the proceeds from the rentals.
    I need to make a will and need advise.

  59. Ilka Marsh says:

    Mr. Moser,
    I was born and raised in Germany but have been living in the US for more than 30 years. I am a US citizen and no longer hold German citizenship. My 93 year old mother still lives with my sister in Berlin. It is not clear to me how an inheritance from my mother will be treated under German law when the time comes – as a US citizen and non-resident of Germany, do I still qualify for the large inheritance tax exemption that a child usually gets?
    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    • Under German law, yes, you are still your mother’s child, regardless of your citizenship.
      However, I don’t know if the US will try to tax you as well.

    • Ilka Marsh says:

      Thank you for your quick response! I had been told previously that being a non-resident might disqualify me from receiving the benefit of the exemption. But that was many years ago. BTW, I am glad to have found your blog – it’s very amusing! :-)

    • Thank you! I am glad you find not only useful, but also entertaining things here. :)

  60. my parents both died, ,y father first then my mother. My mother was a german citizen even though she lived here and had social security benefits here. The three remaining sons had to pay for her funeral. someone told me that there may be both a social security death benefit and also a german social security death benefit because she died a citizen and had paid into the german social security system for years. I am trying to find out about it. any clues from a hobo genius?

  61. Diane Byrd says:

    Dear Andreas, I am an American Citizen and live in the USA, my German Aunt passed away in Dusseldorf in August 2015. The only way I found out was I received a copy of her will in which I was not included by the local German courts. Can I protest the will? But I am most worried about all of my familys photos and important documents in my Aunts house. What are my rights? Where do I start to get ahold of all these important photos and documents? Help! Thank you so much.

  62. Tina says:

    My great uncle passed away near cologne,he owned a beautiful house and apartments. his wife passed away years before him. my uncles wife niece rented the apt attached to my uncles house. the niece and her famikyb who are German citizen do not want to relinquish house and apartments and family heirlooms. My father was his nephew. I’m trying to claim assets and family heirlooms. No one contacted us about his death or property. what can we do?

  63. Pat Watson says:

    Dear Andreas, I am an American citizen in the US and was married to a German who passed away this year in June. We owned a house there together and there were no children. He did leave a will, leaving everything to me that I had verified at the various German legal offices. I would like to know what I have to do to collect his life insurance which I believe was part of a group policy that he had from work. I have been in contact with the insurance company but they keep putting me off, telling me the tax office in Berlin has not released the funds yet?? Isnt there a time limit in Germany for paying out life insurance benefits? It has now been 5 months. Our house was not paid off and I wonder if it is possible for the bank to claim the insurance benefits? I would also like to know about his retirement. Am I entitled to it? An if so, how much would it be?

  64. Denise Trimble says:

    My husbands aunt has just died in Germany. We also live in this country. She wrote a will leaving everything to my husband. This testament was made by a Notar and left at the Amtsgericht . We have now heard that she has hand written another testament. Which testament is valid.

    • The newer one.

    • Denise Trimble says:

      Dear Mr Moser,

      Regarding my previous question.

      The new will was written for her son. But he died before she did. So is his will void.
      Any help would be gratefully received

    • That’s very complicated. I would need to look at the wills and receive a complete timeline of events.

      I charge 200 EUR for a consultation by e-mail.

  65. Denise Trimble says:

    Thanks for your help

  66. Angela says:

    I recently came across the will of my German grandfather and my step-grandmother stating my mother (illegitimate at the time of her birth in 1921, her mother died during her birth and father claimed her 4 years later) should only receive the compulsory portion of the one of their sons who takes over their house. I know my mother never received any inheritance (she came to the US in the 60’s and she passed away in 1999) and recently found out that the only living relative is the wife of one of my mother’s half-brothers. She resides in the house my grandfather spoke of in the will. How would I go about finding out how the will was handled and if we would be entitled to what my mother should have received? The property is in Mannheim. Thank you.

    • The first step would be to go to the land register to see when the property as transferred to whom.
      You might also want to contact the estate court, but you may have problems in proving your right to see the file because you are not mentioned in the will.

      When did the original owners of the house die? If it was more than 30 years ago, all this is subject to the statute of limitations.

  67. tnt says:

    Wouldn’t it be an important part of the article, talking about spouses, to mention that spouses, if the ‘Zugewinngemeinschaft’ (a very common option) was chosen, gets an additional 1/4th in all constellations?

    • Absolutely true if German law applies to the matrimonial property regime (§ 1371 I BGB).
      But I didn’t want to include this because most people who use my blog or my services are bi-national couples (after all, a German-German couple would probably look for information in German language) where the matrimonial property regime may well be governed by the law of another jurisdiction. To explain this would have gone beyond the scope of the FAQ, particularly because some of these couples’ matrimonial property regime is governed by EU law and others is not.

  68. Alan Smith says:

    Dear Mr Moser. Very Interesting article. Did you ever follow up on the question from Altan Halil dated 2015-08-06. I have a similar type of problem

  69. Monica Lepine says:

    My friend, a German lady that lived in Canada for 50 some years has deceased. She had a will leaving me as her sole heir. She has 1 son in Germany and 1 son in Ontario, Canada. Both son’s had nothing to do with their mother when she was alive. Now that she has deceased they are using this forced shared against me claiming 1/2 of my inheritance. Can you tell me if a Canadian will made by a German lady is Valid? OR do they have grounds to claim their inheritance over the Canadian Will? Who could I speak to about this matter.

  70. nancy says:

    How long will they hold a person’s estate after passing before they turn it over to the state? And who would I contact in Germany to inquire about the estate?

    • As I have remarked previously, if you are planning to inherit big time, some small donation for my time and effort would be appropriate.

  71. A says:

    Hi Mr Moser,
    I need some assistance. I have tried to call direclty to german family offices but there are not many that speak English. I have a general question regarding inheritance law. My mother (a Swedish Citizen) married an american citenzen in the US I Believe. They then moved to Germany where they bought a house an where they lived until her death last week (around 8 years in Germany). I have not met her new husband more than 2 -3 times during all those years and since she was an artist I am concerned that I (and my brother) will not get our inheritance from him freely. What right do we Children have after our mother (I do not believe she made a will) and how can we inpose it, see to it that we get our inheritance (mostly paintings and personal items)? Will German law be applicable or Swedish Law? She lived in Hattenbach, 36272 Niederaula, do you know of someone who could help me with this?
    Best regards,

  72. Mike Tencer says:

    Hi , my dads brother died and his wife died as well. There is no living will. They had house together. The house is worth 90,000 euros’ split between the survivors. Which I believe is 7 remaining. My question is it’s been on going since 2007 and there is no resolution. Delay after delay. There is a law firm that is looking after the estate but it never seem to end. Is there a avenue that I can take that would speed things up?

    • I would need to look at all the paperwork to see what actually “has been going on”.
      If there are more than one heir, each one of them can force the sale of the property in an auction and the proceeds will be split.

  73. Krystyna hall says:

    I am heir to my deceased german uncles estate. How do I gain access to his apartment ( no keys available nor do I know who the landlord is) in Germany to access information regarding any assets and debts he may have in order to make an informed decision whether or not to accept this inheritance. I am british and do not speak german. Help please!

    • Because you live abroad, you have 6 months to accept or decline the inheritance, so there is no rush.
      You can contact the estate court, but depending on the address it might be easier to find out the landlord’s name through the neighbors or the land register.

      I will be happy to help with everything, but I am in South America this year and it might be easier for you to hire someone in Germany.

  74. Hi there:
    Long story short: my aunt (dads sister) German citizen, passed away leaving a will. She was married but spouse is deceased. She had no children and her parents are deceased. A will named two of her sisters in law, a friend, and the child of her sister who had previously passed. Nieces and nephews are the next blood relatives. We (the nieces and nephews) are being sent a document to sign. If we are not in the will, why would we need to sign anything? Thank you ps. We are all Americans, including the sisters in law.

    • It would be so much easier for me to answer that question if you email (moser@moser-law.com) me the letter you received and a copy of the will.

      I do however have to charge 100 $ for my reading, research, thinking and reply time.

  75. Lynne says:

    Good day

    I have a question please.

    My daughter’s father who is a German citizen had a will drawn up in 1989 snd left his estate to his 2 nieces vutsubsequently we had a child together. My daughter is South African. How does this affect her entitlement to her late father’s estate?

    Kind regards

    • Like I say in the FAQ above, under German law children cannot be disinherited so easily.
      When did the father die? What happened to the estate?

  76. Joanna says:

    Dear Mr Moser, my step-aunt passed away the other day, she has lived in the US for the last 50 years and became a citizen….she owns property…and her next of kin is her only living sister who lives in Germany….My cousin told me there is no way a German citizen even though she is her blood next of kin, can inherit her property and that it has to be passed down to her step children. is this true…I want to tell her sister in Germany what to do but I’m not sure my self….thank you Joanna

    • That information is NOT true. Neither the US nor Germany have any restrictions on real estate ownership/inheritance by foreigners.

    • Joanna says:

      thank you so much….this is wonderful news for her sister and I’m so glad I didn’t take my cousins statements as fact and asked….I appreciate your help….Joanna

    • Thank you! I am also glad you found my site and asked. It’s shocking what people will attempt to do to get their hands on someone’s estate.

  77. lea bowers says:

    Hello Sir, I apologize if this has been asked already. I missed it if it was. My great-grandfather died in 1991. He left a wife and 2 daughters, 1 of which was from a previous marriage and is my grandmother. My grandmother immigrated to the U.S., but never became a citizen. When her father died, she received notice of inheritance, but my grandfather would not allow her to collect saying the lawyer they needed would cost more than it was worth. She never sent a letter of refusal, but has lost all pertinent papers. My grandmother is now curious as to what happened to her share and if she can still claim rights to it. I tried contacting the German Consulate in Seattle for info, but was only told there is a 30 year expiration on inheritance claims and offered no other information. I will be vacationing in Hameln where her half-sister lives and her father died. She is hounding me to get her information. Can you help me in getting it for her?

    • Yes, I can. But the easiest thing would be to ask the other relatives and check with the estate court in Hameln.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have to edit my original inquiry. Apparently some facts got mixed up. My grandmother was offered $10k by her father if she would release interest in his estate/inheritance after he wasn’t pass. She never accepted. He died, she was never notified. Her half sister knew she existed and their mutual cousins had her contact info. So much time has passed my grandmother has lost all information on family other than names. Last contact with them was in 1972. I would contact her relatives, but don’t have any info on them other than names and most of them are assuredly passed on, except maybe her half sister who was 15years younger than her, but they had never met. I am trying to search estate/probate office in Hameln but am unable to locate such. Can you point me in another direction? Thank you so much for your time and help.

    • This is the court in Hameln: http://www.amtsgericht-hameln.niedersachsen.de – but because your case is getting more and more convoluted, I would need to charge my consultation fee of 400 EUR to provide any advice. I would also need a neat timeline of events and a family tree, based on which I would then ask further questions before I start the legal research. Before the facts are clear, there is no point in answering legal questions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you very much for the link! I will work on a timeline and give your info and recommend to my mother and uncle if they wish to take it further. Thank you again!!! I appreciate it.

  78. Katja says:

    Hi there, I have a question also, found your blog, you seem to know a lot about this, so if I may? My dad is getting palatial care and we are bracing ourselves for the worst. I live in HK, dad and mum are in DE. I am mentioned as the executrix of the will, they have reciprocal wills, I am not 100% familiar with the terms of the wills but I would expect that all goes to mum and then on her death all goes to me (brother died some time ago). Anyhow, I know that they had to do an “equity release” on the house and owe money on this. My question, sorry not familiar with the German inheritance laws, is how are the modalities on dad’s death, does mum have to pay the interest and capital sum back at once? Or does this not apply as it is the marital home and the debt will become due on both death? Does this debt fall to me and do I have to pay at the point probate is granted? Having read around this a bit, do I understand this correctly, i.e. on my inheriting I am receiving both, the debt and the property automatically? What also interests me is if I was to dissolve the household, do I pay inheritance tax on all of the items that are in the house? Does that mean I have to value everything for accounting to the Revenue?

    • I will answer the easy questions first:
      – Yes, under German law the whole estate, assets and liabilities, are passed on at the same time.
      – Inheritance tax is due on the net worth of the inheritance. That would include household items, but unless there are valuable paintings or an expensive piano, nobody would care about that. The tax authorities would mainly be interested in the real estate and bank accounts. As the daughter, you may inherit up to 400,000 EUR (net value) without having to pay German taxes.

      – For the other questions, I would need to read the will, the loan/mortgage documents and I would need to know who owns what share of the house. My e-mail is moser@moser-law.com. Because of the reading required, I would need to charge my full consultation fee of 400 EUR for that.

      – Is your father’s medical care fully covered by an insurance? If not, we also have to consider the care provider’s claims.

      (Wenn es Ihnen lieber ist, können Sie übrigens auch gerne auf Deutsch schreiben. Dann können wir auch die richtigen Begriffe aus dem Testament und der Grundstücksbelastung verwenden.)

  79. Khan Abdul says:

    My question about my wife’s Nephew. He is teenage and have no parents. The mother nd father both died. According the german law as caretaker can we have permission about it for living and higher education with us from Pakistan.We live in Germany and have no child.

    • Yes, that’s possible, but it’s a complicated process because it involves two countries. We would need to look at the whole family situation (is there anyone in Pakistan to care for him? what is his relationship to your wife and you? are you already close or would he feel like moving to strangers?) and then there is of course the language hurdle if he were to go to school in Germany.

  80. Michael Chan says:

    Hi Andreas,
    Referring to FAQ #6, what will be the minimum of the estate if, say in your example, they spouse and the children if they are disinherited?

    • 50% of what they would receive under statutory rules (i.e. in the absence of a last will).

    • michael chan says:

      Thanks a lot Andreas.
      A follow up question, if say there is a will to give 90% of the estate to the spouse, 5% only to each child. Would the children be able to claim for 50% of what they would receive under statutory rules in the absence of a last will?

    • Follow-up questions are always a good time to make a donation to my Paypal account moser@moser-law.com to show appreciation for my service. Thank you!

  81. Sara Adam says:

    Hi Andreas,
    My Dad is not German citizen, nor lived in Germany or Europe .. so are his family a wife and 3 daughters; he studied there only when he was young and opened a bank account there. After marriage & daughters he did for the wife and the daughters a full autorny long years ago and the bank account holds cash & funds & assets (maybe realestate investment) . He passed away in January & untill the release of the documents the full autorny is valid for decisions related to the accounts but not withdrawal ofcourse. He did not do a will in Germany.
    How the law applies in Germany?

  82. Sara Adam says:

    Hi Andreas,
    thanx for replying so fast. My question is how the german private international law applies regarding movable and immovable properties according to a nongerman nationality/domicile deceased.

    • I will be happy to answer that once I receive a donation. I also need to know your father’s citizenship and domicile because there are bilateral agreements with some countries.

  83. Rita Zieman says:

    I have a German client living in the United States. When she dies, she wants to leave her money, etc. to her relatives in Germany. How does she accomplish that? With just a will, or does she need a trust? Thank you.

    • Under German law, a simple will will take care of it (but she has to consider forced heirship rights). And she also has to consider the law of conflicts for estate law of her state of residence in the US.

  84. Rali says:

    a dutch lady here, married to a German man. My husband would like to do his testament, but we are not quite clear how to arrange the matter. We own a house in the Netherlands, but we live (rent in Germany). We have no kids, my husband has living parents. We are married in communality of goods and live that way. Which law applies for our dutch property? We are trying to avoid a situation where I will have to sell the house in NL to pay off his parents. What is the legitimate portion for his parents and evt siblings?

    Thank you very much.

    • Because I need to research the Dutch law, I cannot really answer this question for free. Please e-mail me at moser@moser-law.com for an e-mail consultation, for which I charge 200 EUR. I would of course also need to know what your husband actually wants to do with the house and his other assets. The will of the owner should guide anything we do.

  85. Daniel Behling says:

    My uncle recently passed away in Germany, I live in the United States. My father was named in his will, but he is also deceased, so apparently his portion of the inheritance should go to me and my siblings. An aunt has wrote me to tell that there is nothing in the estate so we need to reject the inheritance. How can I find out what is in the estate?

    • Dear Daniel,
      I’ll be happy to answer that question once I receive a donation of at least 50 EUR to my Paypal account. Thank you!

  86. Solveig says:

    Hello Andreas
    My grandmother, 98 years old, German citizen and lived in Germany, just died. My father pasted away some years ago. He lived in Norway but was also a German citizen. Me and my siblings are Norwegian citizens. My uncle claims there is a written will that her assets are to be shared between her two sons, EXEPT a holliday house in Spain that he should inheret, for a compansation of 10.000 euro to his brother. BUT now he says there is a shortage in her finance and after dedjucting this 10.000 euro on my fathers inheritance he claims we have to pay this. My grandmother lived at a nursing home the last 20 years. In this time my uncle has sold her apartment in Germany. He claims he got her authority to handle her finances. She had altzheimer and have probably given him this authority unknowing what it was.

    My questions is:
    1. Regarding the house in Spain – Is it allowed to put a random amount as a compensation? (The house value should be at least 150.000 euro.) And is it allowed to disinheret one child like this?
    2. I guess my grandmother had some kind of pension during her stay in the nursing home. This should probably cover the expences for her stay?
    3. What about life insurance? Shoulden’t this also cover for a stay in the nursing home?
    4. I guess we are entitled to get a full overview of all the finances?

    • I am very sorry about your grandmother passing away, but I can impossibly answer such a number of complicated questions for free. Please contact me at moser@moser-law.com. I would also need to see copies of the will, the power of attorney and any other relevant document. I charge 400 EUR for an initial consultation.

  87. Toni Pakay says:

    My brother is homeless, we are unable to find him,he is a U S citizen, but has an inheritance in Germany. He is 1/8th owner of an apartment complex in Germany due to our mother passing away. We would like to sell the complex, but can’t find the 8th heir. Is their a procedure we must follow when an heir is missing according to German law?

    • As always in inheritance questions, I’ll e happy to answer that after receiving a donation of at least 100 EUR through the Paypal button on the top right.

      I would also be curious what steps you have undertaken to locate your brother and how long he has been absent. How old is he? Is there unity among the other 7/8 to sell the apartment complex?

  88. my stepdad just passed away in germany and I live in England, am I intiteled to any of his money?

    • Only if you are mentioned in the testament.
      The relationship between step-parents and step-children is not a legal relationship that would lead to automatic inheritance.

  89. If my niece in germany my step dad’s granddaughter has been left any money is she ablished to share it ?

    • I don’t know what is the relationship between your niece, your stepdad’s granddaughter and you, I don’t know what “ablished to share” means, nor do I know who has received how much money from whom on what grounds.

      Please postulate the question with all these details and make a donation of at least 100 EUR before I answer it. In order to determine applicable law, it would also be useful to mention the citizenship and the place of residence of everyone involved.

  90. marife felices fornalczyk says:

    i am married to a german died 2001 we have one child 17 yrs old now. we did not claim any inheritance..but we are recieving child support. is it possible we can claim any even we live in philippines?

  91. Paul says:

    Hi Andreas, thank you for running this forum.

    My question: my German wife recently passed away, her daughter “my stepdaughter” had been nominated as the Hier, she is claiming that all her mothers assets financial and materialistic are hers and i have no rights, only what was willed to me in the testament is mine, My wife and i were married in Germany for 26 years. Do i have any rights? or claims.
    I thank you in advance.


    • Dear Paul,
      I am sorry to read about your wife’s death.
      As the spouse you are entitled to half of the statutory share even if you were not mentioned in the testament. To calculate the exact share, I would need to know if you had a prenuptial agreement, how many other family members there are and I’d like to take a look at the will. I charge 400 EUR for a consultation.

  92. Katrina says:

    Question about number 10.
    Answer was: Guess who? Exactly: the state in which the deceased had his last residence will inherit everything.
    Do you know if there is a time limit for a family member to come forward after they realized they are the only living relative but the estate went to the state because at the time no one had come forward? Is there a certain number of years after someone’s has died that a relative has to come forward?

  93. Alan says:

    Hi Andreas, my wife’s grandmother who was a German resident in Kassel recently passed away. My wife has been listed as the sole beneficiary in the Testament. We live in Australia and cannot afford to travel over there, neither of us can speak much German, just wondering what options you can recommend in order to get through the legal matters and how to get the will executed from foreign shores?

    • My advice depends on what the estate entails, if your wife wants to keep or sell it, and if there are other relatives who might contest the will.

  94. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mr. Moser, ALL, persons referred to here, are German citizens, live in Germany, except my wife who lives in the U.S. with German citizenship. My wife’s father passed away in 03, his will was executed as he stated, the property was divided in accordance to his will, between the 4 siblings. My wife’s mother & brother were living in one of those properties, in an agreement between my wife and ALL other siblings, my wife gave up her rights to her part of that property, stating, that as long as her mother was alive, she could live in my wife’s part of the property, & my wife couldn’t sell, or rent it out, etc. My wife’s mother passed away this past April 2016 of stage 4 cancer, My wife has been to Germany to visit her siblings & mother, I went with her this past July 2015.My wife received a letter from her sister & her brother, (he is staying at that property), attorney stating, that since my wife left Germany, & hasn’t basically been a part of any of her mothers care, they want forced administration regarding her part of the property, there is an offer of payment for her part of the property, we contacted the attorney & she stated she was just hired to do that paperwork & that’s it. Which of the documents take precedence? I have donated to your paypal, & Thank You for your work.

  95. peter says:

    Hello mr moser..
    My wifes who mother was married to a german national and died in 2013 she left a will for her daughters inheritance when she attains the age of 25 years which was last. but since then she has not recieved anything please advise on the way forward… remember my wife is a kenyan and her mum was too. also the the was taken my her step father.

  96. Anonymous says:

    Dear Andreas,

    My late uncle, a British citizen, was residing in Germany for many years, worked there, was getting pension there and died there on 22nd October 2016, had made a legal will and he had submitted the same in the consulate. The will states that his money should be inherited by his three nephews residing in India. We know nobody in Germany and hence do not know what to do to claim his inheritance. Please help us and guide us in this regard. The German Consulate has till now not contacted us.

    • You would need to contact the Local Court (Amtsgericht) at the place where he last lived.
      I would need to look at the will to see if you have a case. It mainly depends on whether he included a choice of law clause because British law leaves the testator more freedom than German law.

  97. Werner kalkbrenner says:

    Hi Andreas, my dad who is a German citizen died 16 years ago In the Philippines I just found out that he has a property in Germany that my half sister had acquired. Can I put a claim to that property I’m his son from his 2nd marriage I’m also a German citizen living in England.thanks

  98. Karsten timm says:

    My mother and myself are German citizens but I have lived in England for last 20 yrs plus I am executive of my mums will but do not have the funds to pay for a funeral when anything happens to her I have 2 siblings who have said they will not pay anything towards a funeral where would this leave me leagally as classed as next of kin thankyou

  99. Fiona Gracie says:

    My mum died in Germany and left a will which has been sent to us by the local court. My husband is the executor and after leaving money to the grandchildren and my husband he gets what is left. How is the will executed if all her paperwork is in Germany with my brother. He and I do not speak and he has not been in contact to say she passed away.

  100. Fiona Gracie says:

    Sorry that should say my brother gets what is left.

  101. Juliane Colleran says:

    I have inherited a house in germany together with my sister, we both want to sell, do we need a Gutachten first before we sell and will we pay heritance tax according to the Gutachten or to the sale price we have achieved?

    • If you are both in agreement, you can go ahead and sell.
      You can pay inheritance tax on the proceeds of the sale unless the tax office suspects that you sold it extra-cheap to circumvent taxes and notary fees.

  102. Anna says:

    Hey, thank you so much for a lovely website… I am glad to see that this post is still partially alive.
    Short question:
    My father lives in a non-EU country and has some property *there*, I am a german citizen and live in Germany. What are the tax regulations if he decides to give me a property or if I inherit a property. Again, the property is not in Germany but I am.

    Will I be subjected to only the foreign tax laws or also to the German law?

    Thanks :)

    • Hallo Anna,
      die Antwort hängt davon ab, um welches Land es sich handelt und welche Staatsbürerschaft Ihr Vater hat.
      Da ich dann das Steuerrecht des betroffenen Landes sowie das Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen zwische jenem Land und Deutschland wälzen muss, würde ich um eine Spende für diesen Blog oder um ein paar Bücher von meiner Wunschliste bitten. Da die Frage sowohl Schenkungs- als auch Erbschaftssteuer betrifft, wären so um die 50-100 EUR angemessen. Vielen Dank schon vorab!

  103. Pingback: AllExperts is dead | The Happy Hermit

  104. Quick question…does not waving correspondence and list of heirs cause another issue in inheritance? My mother-in-law is supposed to inherit money from her step-brother’s estate…she is in the United States…brother lived in Germany.

    • I don’t understand what you mean by “not waving correspondence and list of heirs”.

    • The document is in German..it is from a court..asking her to check this box..next to it, it states Ich verzichte gemaB 352a Abs. 2 S. 2 FamFG auf die Aufnahme von Erbquoten im Erbschein. Question is..if she does not check that box, will it cause issue later? I was told the entire doc is basically stating that she is waving her right for further information and a list of heirs.

    • I would need to see the document and know if there are other potential heirs and if you think that there will be any dispute.
      I would charge 100 USD for that.

  105. ralwoe says:

    What happens to the inheritance if it’s been refused by the beneficiary? Does it go by default to next of kin or to the state? All of the next of kin live in Canada.

  106. John Fiebiger says:

    My aunt passed away on 8-2010 in Germany and a German citizen. In 7-2012 an assessor met with my uncle in law there was no will it was decided I would get 1/4 and my uncle in law 3/4. A lawyer in Germany handled every thing as I had to send my mothers death certificate and my birth certificate. In 2016 I called the bank they told me they needed some sort of book from my uncle in law I never contacted my uncle in law. I now received an email from the tax department they seem to want Form_Erb9-09_eF.pdf filed out so I did this. The amount after expenses seems to be 17,000 euros it seems you are allowed up to 20,000 euros tax free. It seems every thing is done as have an assessor name and roll number and who gets what. The bank told me last year you can not leave this indefinitely. Is there any other forms that might need to be filled out? Also I could have left this in Germany but I am US citizen only I think this is not possible.

    • As you already have a lawyer, it’s best to ask him/her. It probably wouldn’t make sense to pay me to look into the same case again.

  107. Michael Brandt says:

    Hi Andreas, my mother and father owned property in Germany, total value 300k. My mother died intestate and her half was probated to my father (3/6) and her three children (3/6). All are U.S. citizens. We’ve been contacted by the tax authorities in Germany. Do the statutory exemptions (500k for spouse, 400k child) apply to us? If not what exemptions can we take advantage of?

  108. Mpho E says:

    my aunt want my father’s inheritance I’m his only child and my mom died long before my father. my father had no will is my aunt entitled to my father’s inheritance?

  109. Ibrahim Mzee says:

    Sir kindly a m looking for unclaimed funds to claim as a next of kin to share as partners if nobody applies to claim as

  110. Frank Cumber says:

    I have received over 20000 euros money from german estate will I need to pay the tax due first then receive money or will they deduct taxes from the amount coming to me?

  111. Peter says:

    My wife’s mother who remarried to a German husband died four yrs ago, she left a will indicating when her daughter reaches the age of 25 years to own 50% of their belonging in Germany but the will was taken by her step father and she is now 25year what should she do? We are Kenyans.
    Please help.

    • In what country did your wife’s mother die? Was there anything registered with the estate court?

    • Peter says:

      She died in kenya but they used to stay in German with husband. She was documented death certificate issued but went with husband who is also remarried as per now….my wife was also documented in German embercy here in kenya also issued with a letter of administration.

    • This sounds like it would fall under Kenyan inheritance law.

  112. virgil says:

    Good day Andreas, my grandfather passed away in December. leaving 3 siblings (my aunt, my uncle and my mom. Since my uncle has opened a safe without the knowledge of the other siblings since they live outside Germany, (is this legal?).
    Also my uncle has applied for the erbschein as he found a very old will made years back in my grandfather’s safe which makes him sole heir. The German courts find this will valid. which leaves my mom to claim only for Pflichtteil. Is it correct to say that my mom can only apply for Pflichtteil and how does process work to get the necessary information for determining the Pflichtteil?

  113. Amber says:

    Hi Andreas,
    Thank you for this forum.
    My husbands grandfather passed away 2015, his father and bother as well as all others in the family were aware of a large debt owing by the grandfather. We live in NZ and were unaware of the inheritance laws and were notified by a letter presumably after an initial letter that was never received allowing my husband to forfeit the inheritance. As this letter was received after the 6 month period, and all other family members have forfeited their inheritance we are now receiving debt collection letters demanding upwards of 2 million Euros. We have engaged a lawyer however this was futile accomplishing very little and we are still unsure of any outcome. As per the Lawyers recommendation we traveled to the nearest embassy and got a document witnessed stating the initial correspondence was received after the 6 month window of time to decline the inheritance and have since sent that to Nachlassgericht in Germany. We have not heard anything back and are still receiving intermittent debt collection letters. How or Who can we contact, to check to see if our witnessed documents from the NZ German embassy have been received and if they have accepted our declining of the inheritance for the debt of my husbands grandfather?
    Thank you for your advise,

  114. Joni says:

    Hello Andreas,,
    I was born to a German mother and father. Both of their names appear on my birth certificate. I was adopted by an American family and have lived in the U.S. for my entire life. I recently found out that during my time of adoption , 1956, there was no law governing adoption. I have been granted German citizenship and am taking my father’s name. I have had contact with my family in Germany for the past 25 years.
    My question is regarding inheritance. Am I able to inherit anything form my father if I am not written in my fathers will? He is a very wealthy man and resides on the vast properties that have been in my family for 300 years.
    Thank You for your time.

    • That depends on where your father (are you talking about biological one?) resides (because that determines the governing law) and on whether you are still considered his child under that country’s law.
      I would need to look closely into the documents pertaining to the adoption, the citizenship and your father’s name and evaluate them from the perspective of all laws involved, both in 1956 and now.
      That’s actually quite a lot of work, so I would need to charge 800 EUR for that consultation.

  115. Judi Hopka says:

    My husband of 31 years was from Germany..aprox 38 years ago he had a child. No support was made. Now that he has passed. I am going to germany. Can i be held responsible for past child support? And detained

  116. Margit Taranto says:

    My German sister, married, both have and had no children, both in poor health, and live in Hamburg. My sister paid and owns the house they are living in and has no will as of date. Our parents are deceased and there are no relatives I know of. I live in the USA since 1960 and am an American Citizen. What are my inheritance rights per German Law?

    • As long as nobody has died, there are no inheritance rights.

    • Margit Taranto says:

      Yes, of course, sorry, but I meant should I outlive my sister.

    • Hello Margit,

      first of all thank you very much for your donation to keep this blog going! I highly appreciate that.

      Second, we should keep in mind that we are talking about a hypothetical scenario here. We don’t know if you will outlive your sister, we don’t know if she’ll be married when you do and we don’t know what kind of property she will own by that time. A lot can change between now and then, and it could have an effect on inheritance rights.

      But if your sister were to die today without a will (and I assume without any surviving parents, due to her age), all of her brothers and sisters (including half- and adopted siblings) would jointly inherit a quarter of the estate. If you are her only sibling, you would thus inherit 25%. If there are two siblings, you would inherit 12.5%. If there are three siblings, you would inherit 8,3%, and so on.
      If there had been a sibling, but he/she already died, his/her children would take over that deceased sibling’s part in equal shares.

      The other 75% of the estate would go to your sister’s husband (this is assuming that the two of them didn’t sign a prenup choosing a different than the statutory property regime for matrimonial property). If he were to die before your sister dies, the whole estate would be divided between your sister’s siblings. Your sister’s husband would not be replaced by his relatives in the case of your sister’s death.
      But if your sister were to die first and the 75% would go to her husband, then this property would in the case of the subsequent death of her husband be divided among his relatives. You and your siblings would not inherit again.

      The fact that you live abroad and are a US citizen does not diminish your inheritance rights in any way.

  117. Joshua Gratz says:

    hello. my german father died two years ago. my sister and i have been excluded from the will. How do i request an inventory of my fathers estate. do i have to hire a lawyer or can i simply contact a german official myself. To obtain our forced share of the estate do i need lawyers or is there a simple way of doing this by contacting the appropriate officials. In short is there a way we can obtain information on the value of the estate so that we know if it is worth the financial investment, if necessary,i.e…hiring legal council. thank you for your time

    • Good question.
      As always, I’ll be happy to answer it once I will have received a donation to my Paypal account. Thank you very much in advance!

  118. d@gmail.com says:


    Two simple questions if you can help.

    Where does the BGB speak about adopted children vs. non adopted?

    What does the BGB say about adopted children regarding inheritance rights from a grandchild for the estate of a grandmother?

    • An adopted child has the same rights as a biological child, § 1754 BGB.

    • d says:

      Follow up, so would an adopted child have any rights on the inheritance of the biological grandmother if no will was left (pflichtanteil)?

      If no, can the adopted child bring any court proceeding to ask court for an exception?

    • A follow-up question is always a good reason to make a donation to my blog. Thank you very much!

  119. d@gmail.com says:

    Follow up, so would an adopted child have any rights on the inheritance of the biological grandmother?

  120. Norbert Kuehne says:

    My brother and I live in the U.S., our Aunt passed away several months ago, she had no children and left a will naming us as the beneficiaries. my question is, what might the time frame be to process her will and distribute the inheritance ? Thank you for any information you can provide.

  121. Andrea Koziarz says:

    My mother was a German citizen but had been a resident of the United States, so she drew up a Last Will and Testament for her property in the US, with my sister and myself as sole heirs. She has no other children. She has some property in Germany, so my question is, do I need to file for an Erbschein with the German Consulate in the US, or would her court notarized Last Will & Testament suffice for the German Finanzamt, etc.?

  122. Julie turner says:

    Hi my uncle has died in Germany, he is a British citizen and owns a house in Germany. A hand written will has been found where he has left everything to an ex girlfriend of 7 years ago. He has no wife or children. He has a brother (astranged) and a sister, my mother who died in 2007. He inherited my grandmothers house in the Uk in 2015, a family home. Am I entitled to claim? He promised when put grandmother died that if anything happened to him that he would the house to me.

    • Very tricky case because we are potentially dealing with German and British inheritance law, which might conflict.
      I’d like to read the will and take a closer look, but I charge 400 EUR for a full consultation.

  123. Imran says:

    Hi Mr. Moser,
    I am from India. My son was working in Germany who died in an accident. Am I required to pay off his car loans?

  124. gisela says:

    Hello Andreas i am a canadian Citizen Was born in Germany and moved here in 1962. My Brother passed away in April of this year.He was a German Citizen. I am the only relative left in our intermediate family. He had no children. Only a Girlfriend not living with him. Everything was lerft to me. Until he changed his Will 2015.to my two Daughters who live in Germany. Shortley before he died he made out another will where i was inherit 30% . My daughter had the will destraught she said it was unethical. Is that legal . even if it was not registred at the notary.

  125. Anonymous says:

    I have a statement from finance department it lists the bank account with a value of 20000 euros from Sparkasse and 100000 euros from Postbank then it has Erbfallschulden Erbfallkosten: abgezogen wird der Pauschbetrag 10 Abs.. 5 Nr. 3 Satz 2 ErbStg the amount of 10000 euros this does not seem to be the tax I paid because it was a smaller amount is there a set way this amount is deducted like from one bank over the other?

  126. Heidi A. Karow says:


    I found out by chance that my biological father died last February. He was elderly. Sadly, he abandoned me in Canada when I was a toddler, in the mid-1060’s. I had contact with him again, for about 10 years as a young adult. It was not that encouraging… to see the least. Later, I contacted him again when I had my second child to tell him that he was a grandfather (circa 2003). He then informed me that I had a half-sister, raised by another man who evidently had not known about his wife’s infidelity. As far as I know, my father never married in Germany. He did co-habit with a series of women. And he died in a nursing home it seems. If he had any assets remaining (he worked as a Beamter for the state of Bavaria in accounting, if I was not misled) would I inherit anything? And should I do anything or can I do anything now… from afar? (I do not know if my half-sister was ever told of my existence. She is incidentally married to a successful lawyer with a practice in the area of Bayreuth.) I have two teenagers to raise alone (their Romanian father died last year) and I am facing a rather difficult old age. It would have helped of course to have had financial support from my father as a child!

    • Heidi A. Karow says:

      Sorry for the typos. That would be “to say the least” and “cohabitate”.

    • You say that he was your biological father, does that mean he was not your legal father?
      If he was your legal father, you are absolutely entitled to inherit. In fact, children cannot be easily disinherited under German law, so you would even inherit if your father’s will said otherwise.
      And of course you can claim the inheritance from abroad. You simply contact the estate court (Amtsgericht) of the town where he last lived.

    • Heidi A. Karow says:

      Yes, he was my father genetically and he is on my birth certificate (Ontario, Canada). You have an interesting blog Mr. Moser. Thanks again.

    • Thank you very much!
      And good luck with pursuing your share of the estate! If you run into any trouble, please feel free to contact me.

    • Heidi A. Karow says:

      Yes, he was my father genetically and he is on my birth certificate as well (Ontario, Canada). I use my mother’s maiden name incidentally. She was also German. Karow, of course, is not a typical surname in Bavaria, including the region in which Bayreuth is located. You have an interesting blog Mr. Moser. Thanks again!

    • Heidi A. Karow says:

      An Update – Unintended Mess

      I contacted the Amstgericht Bayreuth through their website.

      I merely made an inquiry. I wanted to know if there was a will on file, for example. After some weeks, I received a letter with a lot of forms. The letter was mailed to my personal home address.

      What I can understand (from the German) is that I am now the official heir of my father’s estate. (…nach Aktenlage sind Sie kraft Gesetzes zum Alleinerben berufen).

      Unfortunately I don’t know if he had any assets. He may have had debt! I have no way of knowing. I can only guess. He was elderly and retired for decades. I doubt he had much wealth at 87.

      It’s a very odd system… if this is really how things are done… like you have to gamble on whether or not the deceased was “in the red” or black. Sometimes you know in advance; sometimes not.

      Can I just ignore the letter from Amtsgericth Bayreuth? I’m not a German citizen. My two children are minors. Or now must I respond. (I’m actually a bit surprised that I’m now caught in a little bit of a mess.)

      I don’t really have the resources to pay for notarized documents. And stupidly I cannot go to the embassy for help; although I live about a 30 minute drive away. Only the consulates deal with these inheritance issues it seems – in Canada.

    • You should not ignore the letter by any means because if you don’t want to inherit, you only have 6 months to decline the inheritance (see no. 8 of the FAQ above).
      So you have 6 months to find out if there were any assets (usually at least a bank account and of course personal belongings) and debts (if he was paying them off, the bank account would show that as well). The first step would be to contact the landlord of the place where your father lived and go through his mail and documents.

  127. Rachel Re says:

    Hello Mr. Moser
    I am trying to find my grandmothers last will she lived in Berlin Germany, where do I start? I do not want to hire a lawyer.

  128. Marcello Vito says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,
    a very good friend of mine, a New Zealand citizen who was married to a German citizen and lived in Germany for 16 years, divorced from him in 2016 and left Germany to return to New Zealand in October 2016. Unfortunately she died in September 2017 in New Zealand. Some days ago, to my complete surprise, I received a letter from a German tribunal containing my friend last will: I was named her heir together with another person, 50% each. My friend was divorced, no children. She was adopted in New Zealand but left her adopting family when she was 17 and never met them again. The tribunal is asking me to communicate names and addresses of her legal heirs, which I do not know at all. I took a look in the web and I understand that although the testament was issued in Germany, the law that should be applied is the New Zealand one. Is it correct? Should the adopting family be involved even if my friend named me and the other person as “meinen unbeschraenkten und alleinigen Erben zu je 1/2 Anteil”? What should I do now?
    Thanks so much for your attention.

    • Oh, that is really tricky because it involves the laws of two countries and possibly even the jurisdiction of both countries, depending on where the assets are.
      I would need to research this more closely, take a look at the letter you received, the testament (it may say something about choice of law or be interpreted that way) and potential agreements between Germany and New Zealand. I would have to charge my full consultation fee of 400 EUR for that.

  129. Holley Kauffmann says:

    Mr. Moser,
    My aunt was married to a German for 24 years and had two children. They got divorced 6 years ago and ex-husband remarried shortly after the divorce. The ex-husband died just recently with a surviving spouse. His testament states that his spouse is the sole beneficiary of everything that he has, including the life insurances, because he was mad at his children since they chose to stay with their mother when they separated.

    Here are my questions:
    1. Can his children claim the “forced share” provisions despite the existence of his
    testament ?
    2. Is my aunt entitled to anything since they were married for more than 24 years and the deceased has been married to his new wife only for 5 years?
    3. How much time do they have to file their claims?

    I hope you can help us with these concerns. Thank you.

    • Dear Holley,
      I will be happy to answer these questions once I receive a donation to my PayPal account or a few books from my wishlist.
      Thank you very much already!

  130. Ms Heidi Sanz-Henry says:

    My daughter, 22yrs old has just heard her father (my ex-husband)has died, he had a Spanish passport. He lived in Germany most of his life, his mother, grandmother, great grandmother plus family were German.
    He was born in Berlin, his father was Spanish, his parents were married but his father left his mother after 2yrs of marriage.
    He possibly died two to three years ago.
    He disappeared when she was 9 years old and apart from one letter he didn’t contact her or support her.
    We heard, through a German friend he was living in Germany until he died.
    His family had property and his mother left him money when she died in 2004, as did his grandmother in 2005.
    He has a German son, aged approx 38 yes.
    He left his son’s mother when the baby was 18months old, they never married. How can we find out details of his death and whether my daughter is entitled to anything from his estate.

  131. VICTORIA SNYDER says:

    My grandmother received notification of a possible inheritance from Germany in 1951. She lived in America and was married to a German Immigrant who still had relatives in Germany. Her husband the German Immigrant was deceased already by one year or so prior to notification of an inheritance. The person she was possibly inheriting from was her husband’s father, my Great Great Grandfather, or from her husband. Both died within a year or so of eachother. How would I find out if the inheritance was from my Grandfather, my Grandmothers husband, or from my Great Great Grandfather who are now all deceased. Would it still be unclaimed, and would I, being a surviving granddaughter be entitled to it? Or find out what it was at all?
    Thank you.

  132. Warrick says:

    hello, my natural mother is german, and recently passed away, leaving me a sum of money in her will. She gave me up for adoption whilst living in the UK, and i subsequently grew up a british citizen with british parents. I remained in touch with my natural mother later in life. Will i be treated as a child for the purpose of inheritance tax? or will i be taxed at the full rate, and not counted as her child?

    • This is something that I would need to research and it is further complicated by two countries’ tax systems being involved, the German and the British one.
      So I would need to charge a consultation fee of 200 EUR.

  133. Connie Thomas says:

    Dear Mr. Moser, My sister and I own 1/12 each of a property in Germany. It’s not worth a whole lot and we both barely make a living here. We inherited it from our deceased mother. We are both American and reside in the US. My Aunt lives in the house and is German. She has always helped my mom and us her whole life. We want her to have our share at no cost to us or her if possible, Is there an easy way to just give it to her? Would both of writing a letter and getting it notarized be good enough?
    Thank you in advance for any assistance you may have to offer.
    Connie Thomas

    • You would need to use the services of a German notary for that, otherwise the German land registry won’t accept the deed. The notary and the land registry will charge a fee based on the value of the property.

  134. Connie Thomas says:

    Dear Mr. Moser, Thank you for you response! I will try to find a German notary here in the United states. Hopefully we can find one close to us since I can no longer drive.
    Connie Thomas

    • In the US, you can also use the German consulate. Or you grant a power of attorney to someone representing you before a notary in Germany.

  135. Shelley M Braine says:

    Hi Andreas,
    Thank you for helping so many people out with was looks like very tricky questions! I have one that may be easy but I can’t find the answer so may I ask you?
    I live in Australia and we had a lovely German friend who unfortunately passed away late last year. He made me the Executor and sole beneficiary of his Australian Will (He had been living here permanently and had permanent residency here for 18 years). He was only 67 when he passed but we have found out that he has $22,000 (not sure if this is in Aud or Mark) in his German pension. We are not sure if we can claim this because we are not blood related, so my question is:

    1. Do we have grounds to claim his German pension, and if not;
    2. Can his half sister claim this? She is NOT in the Will but she is blood related?

    Many thanks and kind regards,

    • Hello Shelley,
      that’s unfortunately a very complicated question. I would need to look at the pension contract, the will and possibly at treaties in place between Germany and Australia.
      I would need to charge 600 EUR for such a consultation (but it would cover both questions).

  136. Antonio Faillace says:

    Hi Andreas, My german ex-wife died and left the life insurance under my name. The jugendamt that has the custody of my children has contacted the insurance company and revoked my right to get the life insurance. The insurance company says they are paying the money to the frankfurt court citing a ruling of the German Federal Court on May 21st 2008. See http://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/list.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&Datum=2008-5-21 I am worried about this as I do not want to go to litigation and have to incurr costs and extra time to get the money. What is your opinion? What shall I do?

    • Unfortunately, I can’t comment on that without incurring some costs either, because I would need to look at the correspondence and the life insurance contract.
      I would charge 400 EUR to look at everything, for the legal research and for advocating a course of action.

  137. S McKay says:

    Dear Andreas, Thank you in advance for any advice you can share!
    Our dad lived in Germany most his life and we grew up there, but left as young adults. t’s just us two grown children of dads, but we moved to the UK many years ago now.

    Two months before dad passed away, he gave Power Of Attorney to a friend – for medical reasons we were told.

    We were able to visit with him before passing, being with him he passed away. The visit a tremendous blessing for him and us.

    Upon his passing we spoke with this bank and learned far more reaching Powers were given, which did not reflect dad’s wishes that he made known to us, based on his calls to each of us about his considerations for medical only, and what we thought. We had hoped and suggested he run things by a lawyer first, but he was showing signs of dementia and was becoming quite vulnerable, tho we didn’t realize how much he couldn’t lead himself into decisions anymore.

    Also, with this particular bank, it appears he must have been gently persuaded, feeling cared for, in his mental fearful lost state of mind he yielded to sell stocks and huge assets of around fifty thousand got sold/transferred to an account that the banks will not reveal to us. This probably happened the day he and the friend set up the Power of Attorney. We assume assets were moved into an account in the name of this friend. We can only hope it’s in our dad’s name as well, but we have no idea.

    This so called friend, it is assumed, appears to have robbed another bank account of dad’s where they did not have Powers, via his ATM machine where they withdrew the daily maximum allowable amount over several days a week over several weeks to equal over ten thousand!

    In the mean time they seemed caring and helpful to us, guiding us to the steps we needed to take, went with us to the Funeral Home etc, , but they kept steering us into the notion that it might not be worth persuing inheritance, as that our dad had no money they claimed, he had debt and they trippled the estimated cost to pay for his flat to be cleared, cleaned and renovated.
    They even asked us for his Death Certificate.
    Trying to find out what to do and if there was a will as none could be found in his flat, The Notary told us we should never ever give them, nor anyone his death certificate and looking at some statements we found, she saw no reason that we shouldn’t apply for heirship. And so we have.

    Should this friend’s Power of Attorney stop upon our father’s death?
    What type of lawyer expertise do we need, as we’re dealing with fraud against our elderly vulnerable father, and they have lied to us, trying to keep us away from our father’s inheritance?

    There are some assets that the banker said are for us, after we showed a letter our dad gave us each 12 years ago, with all his love for us, certain investments to share equally, upon his passing. I don’t think we’ll have to fight for that.
    …..Although, the investment numbers of what was listed on said letter, no longer exists. Things had changed. (maybe recently, maybe longer. very few account statements and NO current ones were found in our father’s flat)
    And the banker said he didn’t have that letter in his files, yet there are official signatures of that bank’s representatives on that letter of POA for us.

    We seriously wonder how the banker knew or how he decided what should be “ours” in a matter of 5 minutes???
    He did refer to this friend of our dads by first name a couple times. Makes us wonder if they are intimate friends.

    Do we need a Lawyer to grant the bank permission to transfer dads gift to us to our bank accounts in the UK?

    We have submitted an application for Heirship and are waiting to hear back from the German Consulate in London. Would this suffice?


  138. Anonymous says:

    Hi – if a group of cousins are the sole heirs, what happens to an investment property that has been left? If there was a mortgage against that property, is that automatically cleared upon the deceaseds demise?

    • The group will own the property together and the mortgage will remain in place (because the mortgage is against the property, not the person). But if the underlying loan has been paid back, you can request that the mortgage be cancelled in the land registry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for your reply – can you recommend a lawyer that we can speak to – only because we are based in Adelaide Australia and have an uncle who has passed away in Germany. The other cousins are saying that we should renounce our share as there is debt that we would incur, and the tenant of the said property hasn’t been paying his rent which may have affected the debt position.

      We just need to know what our risks are if we accept the inheritance and how we find out what his debt/asset position is prior to making a decision.

      Your advice is greatly appreciated.

      Kind regards

      Sent from my iPhone


    • Luckily, I am a lawyer. :-)
      I charge 400 EUR for an initial consultation and of course we could schedule something that would suit your time zone. You can e-mail me at moser@moser-law.com.

      As you live abroad, you have 6 months to renounce the inheritance (see no. 8 of the above FAQ), so there is no urgency.
      As you noticed, the most important thing is to find out what the estate encompasses (although if there is real estate and a mortgage involved, the debts are usually not more than the assets, or the bank would have already foreclosed the house) and to reach some agreement with the other heirs. The more there are, the more complicated and sometimes a sale of the property is the only solution.

      Either way, my best regards to Adelaide! I was there on student exchange in 1992 and went to Concordia College. I often think back to that exciting time!

  139. Angela says:

    My biological mother is from Germany and gave me up for adoption as an infant to a family in the US. She has passed away and I have been left a portion of her inheritance. As a biological child I understand there is up to €400,000 tax free. Would I qualify for that tax exemption?

    • That’s actually quite complicated, because it depends on the type of adoption (what jurisdiction and what year?), where the estate is, the citizenship of your mother and you and the double-taxation agreement between the US and Germany.

      I would need to charge my full consultation fee of 400 EUR to look into your case.

  140. Diane says:

    Dear Mr. Moser,
    My husband inherited his Grandfather’s bed and breakfast house back in 1998. We put a lot of money into restoring the house and when it was completed we rented the first two floors out and turned the basement into a bed and breakfast unit. My husband passed away in the Summer of 2017 and I am executor of his will. I will be traveling to Germany this Summer and would like to know where to start,and what documents do I need to bring with me to Germany. My husband’s will stated that I was to receive all real and personal property.
    I would like to sell this German house. Would I be able to deduct the cost of renovations and reimburse myself before payout? I would like to give my brother and sister in law a portion of the sale as well as my cousin who lives in Germany since she helped us so much in handling the day to day operations. I read that in Germany it is succession so I and my children and my stepchildren would inherit, is this correct? Also, is there a website that i can use to find out the value of the home such as zillow. Please note that I live in the USA. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so very much for your time.

    • Hello Diane,
      I would need to read the will and to know your late husband’s citizenship, because that decides which law is applicable.
      Having children and stepchildren complicates the matter because under German law, his children are entitled to part of the estate even if they are not mentioned in the will.
      I will be happy to help with everything, but I would need to charge my consultation fee of 600 euros.

  141. Chris says:

    If a German citizen dies in the states, does his widow need a death certificate in order to sell his assets and empty bank accounts in Germany? What if the deceased has a child that the widow has complete knowledge of?

  142. Hi
    My wife’s great cousin died recently and he left no will he had no spouse or children, no living brothers or sisters and my wife’s mother is his cousin and we believe no other cousins are alive so does this mean that she would inherit his estate?

    • In depends in which country he passed away and which citizenship he had.
      And my willingness to answer the question depends on the donation to keep this blog going. ;-)

  143. Susan McKay says:

    My father(87) is a Canadian citizen who had a girlfriend in Germany. He left her as the beneficiary to one of his RRSP’s worth approx $100,000. Who pays the taxes on this amount? Does she or is the estate liable?

    • I would need to look into Canadian and German tax law on that, including the Double-Taxation Agreement between both countries, read the terms of the RRSP and your father’s will, if there is one.
      For that, I would need to charge my standard consultation fee of 400 EUR = 600 CAD.

  144. Corinna says:

    Dear Mr. Moser,
    my grandmother who lived in a small town in Germany recently passed away. Several years before she died she transferred her house (that has 2 apartments) to my mother. This is where she resided with a notarized (right to reside) life time residence. Shortly after the funeral my brother took posession of one apartment and my sister took the second apartment. They are paying some rent, which I believe is under market value. I have been living in Berlin for the last 7 years and requested one of the apartments. I was denied and made aware that I am “a big city person” with a hint that after my time in Berlin, I am no longer welcome in the small community. Since I am not getting a benefit from a family asset am I entitled to some financial compensation?
    Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate any thoughts you have on this.

    • It sounds like your mother would still be the owner of the house, irrespective of our grandmother’s death because the house was not part of your grandmother’s estate at the time of her death. The fate of the house would only become an issue once your mother will pass away.

  145. Rajendra P Kapoor says:

    My maternal uncle( real full brother of my mother) ,who was a person of Indian origin but a german citizen by acquiring German Citizenship and holder of a German Passport ,died in May2015 at Hamburg, Germany .He was married to one German Lady and lived in Hamburg since 1980s where he died too. Is there any way to claim 50% share of the inheritance, bequeathed by my uncle taken over by his German wife (now widow), by his siblings(2 sisters and 2 surviving brothers) from India as he(deceased) had no surviving parents…
    thanks and regards

  146. John Fiebiger says:

    I do not see any Make a donation button am I using the wrong browser?

    Andreas Moser says:
    2015-10-31 at 09:13

    Particularly on the subject of inheritance law, where questioners expect a financial gain from my research, my time, my experience, my knowledge and my efforts, I don’t answer questions without receiving a donation. You find the “Make a Donation” button on the top right corner of this blog.

  147. Jennifer Moore says:

    I am the custodial parent of two children. At the time of divorce, I was granted $1070.00 per month in child support. Fast forward 18 years to today. The non-custodial parent has passed away and has never paid any court ordered child support. His two children are his only heirs to his estate. He did not have a will. He is a German citizen and resided in Germany. I and the two children who are now above the age of 18 are Americans and reside in America. He had a substantial amount of money at the time of his death. Am I able to receive the child support he never paid, and if so, how would I go about getting it?

    • Generally, the debts of the deceased are part of the estate and will be passed on to the children.

      But if you never sought any enforcement of the court order over 18 years, they will argue that you waived your claims. If you knew of his wealth, why did you never seek enforcement of the court orders?

      So, this is not a clear-cut case, but you can’t do anything wrong by registering your claims with the estate court in Germany.
      I would need to look at the court order to see if you and/or your children are the proper claimants. And if there were attempts of enforcement, then it would increase your chances.
      I’d be happy to help, although I would need to charge for the research and paperwork.

  148. Melanie Reinhardt says:

    My mother lives in Germany as does my brother with his family. My mother is worried about the inheritance and/ or what would happen after her death as my brother and I have not spoken or seen each other for many years. My mother and I both have no idea how this came about but one day he just stopped getting back to me.
    I regress, so because of this she has worry that after her passing things won’t go smoothly because I live in the USA and have no plans to return to Germany. However I am not out of this world and have always made sure he and my mother have updated information on phone number and address whenever I have moved.
    My mother has send a document to me that basically stipulates that in the event of her passing he has all rights and responsibilities to act on my my behalf, which includes selling, trading, gifting, or otherwise disposing of any inheritance which includes real estate among other.
    I understand why a document giving him a certain power of attorney, since he is the one that is close by and will be available is necessary, but the wording in this document and the fact that my sister in laws handwritten note with “Instructions” on it is troublesome to me and raises red flags.
    I’d like to know my mother has peace, I talk to her every Sunday and know this and her children’s relationship troubles her, but I am at a loss on how to proceed with this document. Send a document to the town hall of my former hometown as to my contact address in the even of my mother’s death? Request a different document to be drafted? Draft one myself?
    Thank you for advising.

    • Hello Melanie,
      I share your suspicion. Such a broad power of attorney is actually wholly unnecessary, as your brother could reach you anytime he wanted to.
      I don’t see any reason why you should sign such a document. If your mother is concerned about what would happen to her estate, she could either set up a detailed testament or, even simpler, already give away now what she want you or your brother to have. “Why wait?”, I always ask the old people, and they can’t come up with a good answer (my parents are the same).

  149. Monique Mansalag says:

    Grandpa is the original owner of the house, Opa ist dead. So automatically, grandma will have the house as a wife.
    Grandma is now in the hospital, still alive but has dementia.
    The daughter of grandma (my mother in law) appeared after more than 20 years of having no contact with grandma.
    Mother in law is planning to sell this house that we are living now. ( I and my husband lives together with grandma/grandpa)
    – Does the mother in law has the rights to sell the house even grandma is still alive?
    – the Daughter(mother in law) doesn’t have any last will testament as a proof that she is really the heiress. Is there anyway we can see or have a copy of last will from grandma (if any)
    – what will be the percentage of the distribution of money between the mother in law(daughter) and my husband (grandson)
    Thank you!

    • That’s a lot of questions and I would have a few questions of my own (Does all of this take place in Germany? What was in grandfather’s will? When did the grandfather die? How was the mother in law passed over when the grandfather died? Or is she only grandmother’s and not grandfather’s daughter? And so on.)

      So, this would really require a full consultation, for which I charge 200 EUR. Please feel free to contact me at moser@moser-law.com. Und natürlich können Sie auch gerne auf Deutsch schreiben.

  150. Nicky says:

    My aunt , in Germany, is nearing the end of her life, never married, no children, no other living relatives but me. She had one sister, my mother who died 2o+ Years ago. (My mother’s husband, my father, is also dead). I have no need of money, or property or the hassles they involve at my age in life. If I refuse inheritance I assume my two sons ( I have am married only once and have only two sons) will inherit. My question is: if I legally adopt my husband’s adult daughter ( from his previous marriage) will she also inherit an equal share? And, if so, do I need to adopt her now, before my aunt dies, or can it be done later, after she dies? If so, how quickly would I need to do so?

    • I would need to know in which jurisdiction you and your husband’s adult daughter live to determine if adult adoption is even feasible.
      Also, keep in mind that another option would be to accept inheritance and then distribute the assets as you wish.

  151. Ralph says:

    Can a person who is incarcerated in a mental facility (Canada) be able to accept an inheritance from Germany? How would this work if he is unable to renounce his inheritance or obtain the certificate of inheritance?
    Thank you!

    • Hello Ralph,
      the exact procedure would depend on Canadian law, but generally yes. Being in a mental facility does not deprive one of the right to hold and receive property, I assume. Does the person have any guardian or a representative?

  152. Edith Haller says:

    I have just found out my father passed away in 2018 2 years ago he lived in Germany and I live In Australia nobody has told me it was only by chance that I found out.
    What can I do to find out if he left me any assets

    • First of all, I am relieved to hear that I am not the only one who only has sporadic contact with his parents.

      The first thing would be to contact the estate court (“Amtsgericht”) for the town/county where your father last lived.
      If you need any help with that, please feel free to contact me.

  153. Evanny says:

    Hello Andreas,

    Thanks to your blog and advice I and my cousins were able to obtain Dual-Citizenship.

    I am back with another question. My Opa has passed and we’re going through the trust. We just discovered he had a German Life Insurance. Do you have recommendations for where to go to find out more information?

    Many thanks!

    • Evanny says:

      “ lebenspeschemmgung”

    • Hello Evanny,

      uff, what a combination of good and sad news.

      First of all, I am happy to hear that feedback about your citizenship because people usually don’t tell me about the outcome of their case once they have received my advice.
      If you want, I think it would be very useful for other readers to describe the process, what kind of paperwork you needed, how long it took, etc., so others know what to expect.

      And as to the estate, it depends on the country where your grandfather last lived and on what it says in the life insurance contract. If you can scan it and e-mail it, I can give you more information.

      And of course I would greatly appreciate any support for my blog!

  154. Pingback: Umgang mit Vererbungsproblemen in Deutschland – Law Bucket

  155. Shannon says:

    Hello Andreas,
    My German husband died in 2015. Our son ( German citizenship) was 15 years old. Due to my husband having thousands in debt I did not know about, I declined the inheritance at the urging of my brother-in law for both me and my son.

    Oma has now died and left property, bank accounts etc. The only heirs would be my brother in law and my son. My brother in law says that my son gets nothing and he is entitled to everything. Is this correct? Is my son entitled to the Pflichtteil or did he lose that when I declined my husbands inheritance?

    Kind regards

  156. Hannah says:

    do I have a Right as a wife if my husband inherit a house from a non-relative person?

    • Hello Hannah,

      as I mention at the top of this post, I am happy to answer your question once I will receive a donation to keep this blog alive.
      Thank you!

  157. Blonid says:

    Its not true that the deceased children receive 25% each. The slouces is entitled 50% followed by a further 25 % with the remainder being shared amongst the number of adult children.
    It must also be noted that if this us a second marriage the step children can only claim 25% of the 50% from the deceased and not 25% of 100%.
    So if the wife owns 50% of the property you can only claim your share from the other 50%.

  158. David Baum says:

    Dear Mr Moser,

    I hope you can help me.

    We have just been informed (informally, by phone – one would have difficulty proving exactly when it was) that my wife’s brother (with whom she hasn’t been in contact for around fifty years) passed away (in Hamburg, I believe) around a year ago, leaving 20.000 euro in debts.

    Neither my wife nor her sister (only slightly more contact), the only surviving family, live in Germany. Her sister plans on travelling to Germany, where she has a lawyer, and anticipates opting-out (I forget the official term) of the inheritance.

    My wife is not well, and it would be extremely difficult for her to even go to the German consulate to “opt-out”. (Though she will, at some time in the future, need to renew her passport – probably at Botschaft London.) We are also basically on the poverty line, and cannot even afford the Notary fee.

    We do not own any property and have absolutely no assets. We live with our married children; dividing our time between London, New York, and Jerusalem.

    My question is, basically, what can the creditors do to us if we simply ignore the situation?

    Thank you for your time,
    David Baum

    • Hello David,

      the creditors can’t really do anything terrible as long as you don’t have any assets.
      Depending on who they are, they might even write off the debts. For a bank, for example, 20.000 € is not too much and really not worth the effort to seek enforcement in another country.

      But for the debts not to be passed on until eternity, it would really be better to renounce the inheritance. You do have German consulates in London, New York and in Tel Aviv.
      Regarding the fee, I would hope that your children would be happy to pitch in. After all, they don’t want to deal with this in the future, when you will pass on these debts to them.

    • David Baum says:

      Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
      (And, wow! I really admire your blog / lifestyle. If only …)

      The consulate in London, when we are next there, would be the easiest for my wife to travel to; do we have to worry about the six month deadline – as we have not been officially informed of his demise?

      BTW, if I am in Jerusalem next time you visit, it would be my pleasure to show you some of the sights that you would probably not see on your own.


    • The deadline begins once you hear of the demise, whether officially or unofficially. So I wouldn’t risk anything about the deadline, especially as you already benefit from the extension from 6 weeks to 6 months, due to living abroad (§ 1944 III BGB).

      And thank you very much for the invitation!
      It’s been really too long since I have been to Jerusalem or to Israel in general. The last time was 7 or 8 years ago, when I ran the Jerusalem half marathon (I would never do such a thing now that I am older and wiser :-) and then hiked in the north of Israel (I would absolutely do that again).
      Come to think of it, I should really finally take the time to publish the article about that hike…

  159. Lisa O Sullivan says:

    German inheritemce law is full of red tape. Emptying a lawyer in the UK who is comprehensive of German law would be costly but better than emptying a German lawyer in germany. Speaking from personal experience my lawyer declined to write to me in English. Had no intetest other than making money and informed me I would habe no issue getting payment back for my fathers cremation via his estate. What she failed to tell me is that as my fathers wife refused to oay back his funeral costs I would habe to take her to court pay legal fees up front and court costs. This is a massive omission on her part.furthermorecshe failed to question fraudulent documents from the other party.
    Be careful keep your eyes open because from my experience the system lacks empathy as did all the people I dealt with in Germany.

    • Whereas in the rest of the world, especially in the UK, all lawyers are super nice and work for free, just because they like to help people.

    • Lisa O Sullivan says:

      Do you lack empathy to with a comment like that.?, What lawyer declines to communicate in English citing they don’t have time. Ignore fraudulent activity and omit the process and legal cost of going to court to claim funeral costs. I mentioned nothing about payment/ cost i merely was pointing out that I didn’t find the lawyer professional and as a foreigner it was very difficult during a very sad time.
      May I add that my father had a terrible death in a german hospital where they withdrew his end of life care meds without assessment. Im a heath professional and how the health professionals behaved was unethical and uncaring. your response is underhand and sarcastic and just supports how most germans have no empathy whatsoever. Shame on you.

  160. Lisa O Sullivan says:

    My father lived in gernany but paid taxes in the UK and Ireland. I’d he lived in gernany for 15 yrs does this make him a resident?
    He had initially made a eill wkth a notary with his wife wirh no translator present.
    He later admitted a new will hand written and witnessed to the German courts.
    We his children were told his hand written will was void as the spousal will took favour?
    I was told assets ouside of Germany were under German law. Could this be challenged as an Irish citizen and his most recent hand written will that assets pursue of Germany go direct to his children and not his wife who he had separated from but nit legally.

    • I understand from your previous comment that you had already employed at least two lawyers to look into this issue, so I don’t think I will need to do so anymore.

  161. Lisa O Sullivan says:

    Unfortunately they weren’t committed to answering this or making a commitment. They only dealt with his estate in Gernany.
    It would gabe been interesting to hear your professional view as you seem fair and to the point unlike my experience.

  162. James kinsella says:

    my wife passed away in Ireland and has a will but has a share in a studio in Germany but has no will in Germany does she have to do a separate will in Gemany

    • Hello James,

      if your wife already passed away, it’s too late to set up any will, I guess.

      But her property in Germany will either be covered by the will (I’d need to take a look at it) or by statutory inheritance law.

Please leave your comments, questions, suggestions:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s