Notary Services: Inheritance and Gifts
During our lifetimes, we strive to accumulate and protect assets. Many of us, however, fail to make any provisions at all made in case of death. Unfortunately, many families fall apart due to conflicts over inheritance after a family member’s death, and they often become entangled in expensive legal disputes until there is no inheritance left.
In case of intestate succession, German law does not differentiate as to whether the given estate consists of a one or multiple-family home, a company, savings or any other assets. The rude awakening occurs mostly after a family member’s death. Couples are often of the opinion that their mutual home will belong to their surviving partner alone. They are not aware, however, that in Germany other parties, such as children and even distant relatives, can be legally entitled to inheritance, as well, and thus become co-owners of the estate.
The succession that occurs after one’s death is also not influenced by whether or not the deceased had a good relationship or a bad relationship (or no relationship at all) with his or her heirs.
In case a company or shares are being passed on, no one will inquire whether the heirs actually possess the ability to continue to operate the business. Finally, in case of intestate succession tax structuring options are not considered, and these can only be optimally utilized if a last will and testament is individually structured with precise instructions.
An individually structured asset succession can be arranged in two different ways. One possibility is to structure asset succession based on inheritance (in case the testator passes away), while the other possibility is a so-called “anticipated inheritance” bequest which was decided during the lifetime of the testator. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, which should be individually discussed in detail.
In many cases, a combined solution incorporating lifetime transfers by way of anticipated inheritance combined with a (joint) will & testament or inheritance contract proves to be the most advantageous. In this regard, myriad German legal regulations must be considered in order to find the most suitable solution. This is often not possible without consulting an expert.
Notary Delia Reinders, whose daily job is to deal with such situations, will in the course of a personal consultation find the correct solution for your specific situation and will transpose it into the proper legal format.