How is a will drawn up and can I register it?
Last update: 10/7/2012
Anyone who wishes to draw up a will must comply with specific forms. Austrian law has, among others, the following types of wills:
- the authentic will, drawn up by the civil law notary or the court;
- the holograph will, which must be written entirely by hand and signed by the testator;
- the written will (handwritten by a different person than the testator or a typed will), drawn up in the presence of three witnesses.
In a cross-border situation, a will is, in principle, valid if it complies with the law of the State where the will was drawn up.
It is possible to register wills that are kept by a civil law notary, a court or a lawyer in the central register of wills (”Zentrales Testamentsregister“) which is run by the Austrian Chamber of Civil Law Notaries (Österreichische Notariatskammer). This register is the only register of wills provided for by law.
This register is the only register of wills provided for by law.
Information about how to keep, to register and to search for a will are also available on the website of the European Network of Register of Wills Association (ENRWA) in the section “Information sheet”.
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will as regards its form and substance?
For a will to be valid, the testator must have the capacity and intention to draw up a will independently. For the will to be valid the requirements regarding its form must also be respected. Forms of will (Testamentsformen): holographic wills; wills written by hand by another party; wills drawn up in exceptional circumstances; wills executed before a civil law notary or a court.
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will drawn up in another State?
Article 1 of The Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Successions of 1961 applies (Art 1 of The Hague Convention of 1961).
Are agreements relating to a future inheritance authorised? Who can conclude such an agreement? What form must be respected?
An agreement relating to a future inheritance (§§ 1249 and following ABGB) can only be concluded by spouses or fiancés subject to marriage, in the form of a notarial deed in accordance with article 1 of the law on notarial deeds (§ 1 Abs 1 lit a Notariatsaktsgesetz); the presence of two witnesses and a second civil law notary is required. Agreements relating to a future inheritance may not cover more than three quarters of the estate. In this context, parties to a civil solidarity pact have the same rights as spouses and fiancés (§ 1217 ABGB).
Are there other possibilities for settling a succession?
How and where can I register a will? What is the effect of registration?
Wills, agreements relating to a future inheritance and deeds relinquishing the succession or the reserved portion filed with a civil law notary, a court or lawyers can be registered with the Central Register of Wills which is managed electronically by the National Council of Austrian Notaries (Österreichische Notariatskammer) pursuant to the law on notarial professions (§ 140 b Notariatsordnung). This register is the only register of wills provided for by law. It is even compulsory for courts and civil law notaries to register these notarial deeds with the register of wills (§ 140 c Abs 2 Notariatsordnung). Registration ensures access to these documents in the framework of succession procedures.
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Successions in Austria
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