• Inheritance: Asserting the Compulsory Share
  • September 10, 2015 | Author: Michael Rainer
  • Law Firm: GRP Rainer LLP - Cologne Office
  • Close relatives who are not accounted for in the testator’s will or contract of inheritance are entitled to a compulsory share. This amounts to half of the statutory share in the estate.

    GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: In Germany, the rules of intestate succession apply by default. The testator is able to change this line of succession and organise the estate by means of a testamentary disposition: a will or a contract of inheritance.

    Having said that, the legislature has set boundaries here. Close relatives, e.g. children or grandchildren, are entitled to inherit. If they are not accounted for in the will, they are nonetheless entitled to a compulsory share. This amounts to half of the statutory share in the estate. For example: A father has two children. There are no other people who are entitled to inherit. According to the rules of intestate succession, each child inherits half. In his will, the father appoints one of the children as his sole heir, yet the other child is not left empty-handed; it can assert its compulsory share. In this case, it would then inherit 25 per cent of the estate. This entitlement would also exist if it were mandated by will that one child is to inherit ten per cent. The difference, the remainder of the compulsory share, could then be claimed against the other heir.

    There is an order of priority among those who are entitled to a compulsory share. Closer relatives take precedence. If the testator has children, for instance, the grandchildren and parents are not entitled to the compulsory share.

    The scope of the compulsory share depends on the extent of the statutory share in the estate as well as, of course, the value of the estate. In evaluating the estate, it is not only cash assets that are relevant but also properties and jewellery. It is equally important to take into account the testator’s liabilities.

    It is not possible for those entitled to a compulsory share to be completely disinherited unless there has been serious wrongdoing. This would be the case, e.g. if the persons entitled to a compulsory share had attempted to take the testator’s life or planned other crimes against him.

    In order to avoid disputes amongst heirs, testamentary dispositions ought to be well-considered and in line with the legal requirements. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of succession law can ensure that the estate is arranged appropriately.