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German Law/German Inheritance Process



My German grandmother just recently passed away and is survived by her son and grandchildren(me and my brother). My mother (her daughter) passed away two years ago and now my grandmother has died. My Uncle just emailed me asking for my address (My brother and I live in the US)and said it was for the government. Am I entitled to an inheritance? Does my Uncle keep it all or does the German Government decide that? Do they send you a check in the mail or do you have to do something special? Are my brother and I entitled to my mothers share of the inheritance if there is one? It just seems a little difficult because my Uncle's English and My German is not so good.

If there is an intestate succession you and your brother would be entitled 1/4 of the estate and your uncle 1/2. The government has nothing to do with the succession because in Germany there is no probate. The court (Nachlassgericht) only opens the wills and sends authorized copies to the people involved. Furtheron, upon a respective application they issue certificates of inheritance (Erbschein) that identify the heirs as legitimate successors to third parties. It is up to the heirs to jointly administer the estate, pay the estate liabilities and distribute the estate and finally to pay taxes. Of course, they can grant power of attorney to one heir or a third party to represent them.  

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Henning Haarhaus


I can answer questions in English, German and French. Practice in inheritance law, tax, labour and contract law for private clients. Services also rendered in the fields of business & commercial law; e.g. business organizations, contracts, debt collections, leasing law. Representing clients all over Germany. NO CONSULTANCY ON FAMILY AND IMMIGRATION LAW.


Working since 1999 in the forenamed fields. Henning Haarhaus` experience includes services in the legal department of Roedl & partner, the biggest tax consultancy firm of German origin. Appointed Bar Certified Tax Law Practioner in 2007.

Bar Association of Berlin, KIWANIS


German licensed lawyer and bar certified tax specialist

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