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Sole Heir May Need Certificate of Inheritance in Spite of a Power of Attorney - Law of Succession

It may be necessary to obtain a certificate of inheritance even though a sole heir has a power of attorney with postmortal effect.


Cologne, Germany -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/04/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and London – conclude: In its ruling of January 10, 2013 (File No. 15 W 79/12), the Superior Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Hamm has decided that a power of attorney signed by a testator, which is meant to remain in effect after the testator’s death, shall expire if the empowered person is the testator’s sole heir.

In principle, in the case of a power of attorney with postmortal effect, which is to remain in force beyond death, the land registry office only needs to verify the effectiveness of the power of attorney, and no proof of inheritance is required. However, the case may be different if the empowered person has also become the testator’s sole heir. If it were to be assumed that the power of attorney remains in force for the sole heir, this would amount to a fiction for which no support can be found in the law. If the heir is the sole heir, the court declared, it is his own business which under certain circumstances could already be in effect.

The Superior Court had to rule in a case where a testatrix, who was entered in the land registry book, had given her husband a general power of attorney. This general power of attorney was to remain effective after death. After his wife’s death, the husband transferred the property to another person. The land registry office asked the husband for proof of inheritance so that any possible co-heirs could be heard and the husband’s status as sole-heir could be verified. The testatrix’s husband argued against this, but the land registry office did not comply with the complaint.

The subject of heirs and inheritance is more than a purely legal matter. In addition to legal questions about inheritance law, the heirs are almost always involved in emotional and internal family considerations. A lawyer with experience in inheritance law will deal with such an exceptional situation confidently and sensitively.

If there is no will, the law will determine the heirs. In each individual case, a lawyer with experience in inheritance law will review who is entitled to an inheritance and how large the share of inheritance is.

This also applies to the required certificates which may have to be presented in an individual case before an inheritance can become effective.

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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