Day 6: Inheritance law in Germany

When it comes to German inheritance law, what is known as universal succession applies. This means that the heirs inherit the assets as well as the debts of the deceased person. Inheritance law in Germany is not as stringent as in other European countries. Here’s how it works in general: If there is no will, intestate succession applies. Who inherits something basically depends on the degree of kinship (spouses or registered domestic partners inherit preferentially). The intestate succession also determines the statutory share. It’s normally a fairly straightforward matter.


The will: Who should inherit my money?

In a will, a person can exclude close relatives who are natural heirs from the inheritance. Conversely, legal heirs who have been excluded can also claim their statutory share. If there is no will, German law applies.


The degree of kinship also affects tax exemption on the inheritance. If the person inheriting the money is a spouse or registered domestic partner, the exemption is 500,000 euros. When children or grandchildren inherit, the exemption is 400,000 euros.


By the way, adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children. Thus, if a family consists of a mixture of biological and adopted children, the adopted children are also entitled to the statutory share of the inheritance. Adopted children are equal to the biological children of their parents in the eyes of the law.


For details on inheritance law and corresponding tax matters, please consult a good specialist lawyer.