German-British probate law and estate planning

German-English Probate and Estate Planning 

Together with our partner law firm in England we advise English clients residing in Germany or having property in Germany on all aspects of German-English inheritance law, both in English and in German. We consult with a view towards the overall tax and civil law situation. Our services include: 

German-English Estate Planning

We frequently advise clients from the UK in all matters connected with international estate planning, including, but not limited to:

  • Reviewing existing wills
  • Designing and drafting both English wills and German testaments
  • Structuring trusts to avoid or minimize German estate, inheritance or gift tax liabilities
  • Advising on the use of Joint Accounts and the appointment of successor beneficiaries to allow for the transfer of assets outside of probate
  • Advising on German inheritance tax and how it relates to UK IHT and
  • Preparing living wills and health care proxies for both England and Germany.

Support for executors/administrator of English estates in Germany

We advise and assist clients acting as executors or trustees of UK estates or trusts with assets in Germany and/or having German heirs. Our services include:

  • Obtaining recognition of validity from German probate courts for English wills and the issuance of German Letters Testamentary (“Testamentsvollstreckerzeugnis”) for  English executors
  • Assistance with obtaining German Certificate of Heirship (“Erbschein”) for English heirs
  • Providing legal representation for English heirs, beneficiaries, executors, administrators and trustees of estate) in connection with obtaining assets held by German banks, insurance companies and financial institutions, passing both through or outside of probate
  • Assistance with the preparation and filing of German estate, inheritance, and gift tax returns for English estates, heirs and beneficiaries to ensure recognition of payments of English gift and estate taxes (federal and state) in Germany and deduction of such payments from any German estate, inheritance and gift tax liabilities
  • Representing English executors, administrators, heirs, beneficiaries and trustees before German probate courts and taxation authorities, including obtaining tax clearance for the release of German assets passing to English heirs and beneficiaries and defending against claims of unwarranted German estate, inheritance and gift taxes
  • Consulting regarding the structuring and timing of distributions from English trusts by English trustees to German resident beneficiaries to minimize any German estate, inheritance and gift tax liabilities

Support for Estate/Probate Proceedings in England 

We also advise clients in probate proceedings on any questions pertaining to German inheritance law.  Our services include providing Affidavits in Foreign Law (German Law) and Legal Opinions on German law in foreign contentious probate proceedings. 

Representation of English clients in Contentious probate proceedings in Germany

We represent English beneficiaries as well as executors and trustees in contentious probate proceedings in German courts, e.g.

  • Forced heirship claims under German law (Pflichtteil)
  • Will contest on the grounds of Undue Influence and Lack of Mental Capacity.
  • Dissolution of community of co-heirs (Erbengemeinschaft)
  • Dismissal/removal of executors
  • Contentious Determination of heirs (Erbenfeststellungklage)
  • Injunctions

Representation in Contentious Trust matters

Although no trusts exist under German law in the strictest sense, there are some German legal instruments that are similar to Trusts (e.g. Dauertestamentsvollstreckung, Vor- und Nacherbschaft, Stiftung, Treuhand) and German courts may interpret foreign trusts the equivalent of German legal instruments. We represent English beneficiaries as well as Trustees in German courts, e.g

  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Accounting
  • Removal of Trustee (z.B. “Dauertestamentsvollstrecker”)
  • Trust Modification
  • Trust Termination
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Do you have any questions? We would be pleased to assist you. To make getting in touch with us as simple and efficient as possible for both parties, we ask you to primarily use our contact form for your questions. Please describe the matter as clearly as possible. You can also add attachments. After sending your inquiry, the attorney responsible will contact you either by telephone or by e-mail within 24 hours and, where necessary, pose further questions or submit a proposal for consultation.  

Of course, you can also call us directly to make an appointment for a personal consultation or telephone consultation (find contact details here). All potential clients will be informed in advance of any costs that may be incurred during the initial consultation

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