How is a will drawn up and can I register it?
Last update: 10/7/2012
It is possible to dispose of one’s assets on death by way of a will, a joint will (reserved for spouses and registered same sex partners) or a contract of inheritance. Wills may be olograph wills or executed before a civil law notary. In the case of international successions, the advice given by a civil law notary is particularly important. A contract of inheritance must always be executed before a civil law notary.
German law guarantees that wills executed before a civil law notary and filed with the succession court will be opened in the event of death when a German court has jurisdiction. An olograph will can only be filed to the court at the testator’s request.
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will as regards its form and substance?
The validity conditions for a will are the power, desire and finally the freedom to make a will, which may be limited by joint testamentary provisions previously made. Moreover, the following forms must be respected: the holograph will (§ 2247 BGB), the notarial will drawn up before a civil law notary, or by authentication of the last will, or by submission of a declaration of the deceased to the notary in which he/she certifies that the document is his/her last will (§ 2232 BGB). The will drawn up in exceptional circumstances (§§ 2249 ss. BGB).
What are the validity conditions for a will originating from another State?
See The Hague Convention on the Conflicts of Laws relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions of 1961, incorporated into art. 26, par. 1er to 3 EGBGB.
Are agreements relating to a future inheritance authorised? Who can conclude such an agreement? What form must be respected?
In principle, any person with unconditional power may conclude an inheritance agreement in the form of a notarial deed (§ 2275 s. BGB). On the other hand, a joint will may only be drawn up by the spouses (§§ 2265 ff. BGB) and registered partners (§ 10, par. 4 LPartG).
Are there other possibilities for settling a succession?
- A donation inter vivos with a view to the death of the deceased (§ 2301 BGB)
- A transfer of property while the deceased is living
How and where can I register a will? What is the effect of registration?
Testamentary provisions in the form of a notarial deed are in particular deposited in a decentralised way with the magistrates courts (Amtsgerichte – Nachlassgerichte). It is also possible to deposit wills that have been written, dated and signed by the testator with a magistrates court for the purpose of preserving secrecy and protection against oppression (§ 2248 BGB).
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Successions in Germany
Current country: Germany