Succession and Inheritance Law in Germany

Succession and Inheritance Law in Germany

Updated on Monday 25th January 2016

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Succession-and-Inheritance-Law-in-GermanyLegislation on inheritance in Germany

Inheritance and succession fall under the governance of the German Civil Code. Even if Germany is divided into administrative territories, the inheritance and succession legislation applies evenly all over the country. A particularity of the German inheritance laws is that is makes a clear distinction between rightful heirs and beneficiaries of an estate. Rightful heirs may claim all the rights to a German estate upon the death of the decedent under the legislation. Forced heirship regulations in Germany limits beneficiaries to the deceased’s surviving spouse and children.

Intestacy under the Inheritance and Succession Law in Germany

In case an individual dies without leaving a will (intestate), the German Inheritance Law establishes that the estate will be divided among the living relatives. The division of assets will be done as it follows:

  • -          the living spouse is entitled to a quarter of the estate;
  • -          the rest of the estate is divided in equal parts between the children.

However, if a matrimonial property regime also applies, succession could be affected. Our German lawyers can assist you in matters related to inheritance under the matrimonial property regulations.

The forced heirship regime in Germany

Under the German forced heirship regulations, other relatives than the living spouse and children are allowed to make claims related to the deceased’s estate if they were not included in the testament or if they have been excluded from the 50% compulsory share. The regime can also be avoided if the claimant renounces their part of the estate.

The inheritance tax in Germany

A key aspect of the German Inheritance and Succession Law is taxation. The German tax system imposes a tax on the inherited estate based on the degree of kinship between the deceased and their heirs. The inheritance tax is divided in three categories:

  • -          the first category applies to spouses, children and grandchildren,
  • -          the second category applies to grandparents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews,
  • -          the third category applies to other relatives.

The inheritance tax also applies by calculating the amount inherited.

For complete information about the inheritance and succession legislation and its taxation, do not hesitate to contact our law firm in Germany.