GRP Rainer LLP

Disinherited Final Heir Can Cause Problems

Married couples should be careful when drafting their will with regard to any possibly remaining final heirs.


Cologne, NRW -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/19/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London explain: In most wills, married couples reciprocally appoint themselves as heirs and subsequently their children as final heirs in equal shares. This appears to clarify the succession. However, it is frequently not taken into account that in the event of the death of one of the parents, one of the siblings can demand their legal share.

This was the case that the Hamm Higher Regional Court recently had to decide (Az. I-15 W 134/12). Here, both natural daughters of the husband were appointed as final heiresses. After his death, one of the daughters demanded her legal share, the other remained final heiress. However, the surviving wife retrospectively altered the contract of inheritance in favour of her own daughter. Following the death of the wife, the daughter of the deceased husband - originally the sole final heir - found herself in conflict with the wife’s natural daughter. This brought into dispute her inheritance of half of the distributive shares of the sister dropped from the contract of inheritance.

In the Court’s opinion, the original final heiress was, however, entitled to a certificate of inheritance identifying her as the sole heiress. Consequently, it was considered that, according to the collective will of the married couple, the husband’s blood relatives were supposed to be conferred an advantage under the law of succession. In this case, the Court did not consider there to be evidence that the surviving married couple might have changed this retrospectively.

Nonetheless, this could be viewed differently in individual cases. It is therefore advisable to exclude such loop-holes at the time of drafting the will.

To ensure that the surviving spouse does not independently alter the succession against the will of the deceased, married couples should take into account all conceivable circumstances when drafting their last wishes. A lawyer experienced in the law of succession will gladly advise you, so that your designated final heirs can assume their inheritance without any problems upon its devolution.

About GRP Rainer LLP
GRP Rainer LLP is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London UK.

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