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German Law/Classes of Inheritance


An Aunt died in Berlin 6 months ago. Her nearest relatives are her 5 nephews and neices.

After trying to contact the local court for several months, and being told they only speak German, we have only now received a letter from the court. It says two charities seek to inherit the estate based on them seeking testament to be given on the basis of a certificate of inheritance.

We have been given two weeks to "argue any objections" in writing. Are we entitled to a portion of the estate as nearest surviving relatives? We are of the classes of inheritance, but do not know where we stand regards these certificates of inheritance?

Dear Bill,

If the testament states that the charities receive all the money the 5 nephews and nieces have no right to claim a part of the inheritance. The so called Pflichtteil exists only for spouses and children of the aunt.  

Carolin Schulz-Burgess
German Attorney at Law/Foreign Legal Consultant

German Law

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Carolin Schulz-Burgess


German legal issues on inheritance, divorce, alimony, child custody and support, last wills and testaments, and other problems involving international family and civil law.


I am a certified German laywer with professional experience in both German and American law firms. Since 2001 I have been working independently at my firm, German Legal Services. I have represented hundreds of clients on matters involving US-German legal issues. One of my firm's areas of specialization is in divorce and child support and custody issues between members of the U.S. Armed Forces and German civilians.

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I received my undergraduate and JD degrees both from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, whose law school is consistently ranked in the top 10 in Germany.

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