Estate (Nachlass)

Upon an individual’s death, all rights and obligations of the decedent - the estate (Nachlass) - pass to the "heir". See § 1922  German Civil Code (BGB). Generally, even contractual agreements, e.g. a lease contract, pass to the "heir". However, some (contractual) rights may end with the death of a person and will then not pass to the "heir". Some assets pass "outside of the estate", e.g. by way of a payable on death account (Vertrag zu Gunsten Dritter) or life insurance (Lebensversicherung).  In contrast to the laws of most common law jurisdiction, e.g. the U.S., the estate is not a legal entity for German tax purposes, e.g. German inheritance tax (Erbschaftsteuer) or income tax (Einkommensteuer).

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