Disclaimer of inheritance (Ausschlagung)

As the heir is liable to the debts of the decedent (debt liability in Germany), an heir may seek to disclaim an inheritance in the case that the estate is indebted. The heir may disclaim the inheritance by making a declaration (Disclaimer) to the probate court for the purpose of authentication, or by a certified authentic declaration in front of a German probate court, a German notary or a German Consule. The general deadline for renunciation is 6 weeks, and 6 months if, among others, the last residence of the deceased was exclusively abroad. An inheritance may only be accepted or renounced in its entirety. Once the heir has accepted the inheritance (acceptance of inheritance) he cannot renounce the inheritance. Upon renunciation of the inheritance, the next in line will receive the estate, unless decedent provided for an alternative distribution in his will. Usually the children will be next in line and will inherit the share of decedent’s debts unless they also disclaims the inheritance. However, the parent of a minor children or one parent with full custody, may disclaim in the name of the child if the child only inherits because the parents disclaimed the inheritance.

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