German Law/inheritance

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Question
QUESTION: My Wife and I are Both U.S. Citizens and we own a home (Joint)in Germany. I have a Daughter (from my previous marriage) that is a German citizen. If I die before my wife, I want her to be able to stay in the home in Germany and not have to sell it to pay off an inheritance to my daughter. Can I put the house just in my Wife’s name to prevent Daughter from claiming a share under Germany law?


Thanks,

ANSWER: Dear Larry,

You can put the house just in your wife's name. But according to Art 2325 III BGB your daughter is still able to claim her so called Pflichtteil from your wife. The Pflichtteil will be the value of 1/4 of the estate and there is a time limitation for the claim of the Pflichtteil.

You can contact me directly at csb@germanlegalservices.com for further advice.

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

German Legal Services
306 South Walker Street
Columbia, SC 29205
www.germanlegalservices.com
Tel. +1 803 254-8153
Fax +1 803 753-9295
 

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Everything I have but the house, investments, bank accounts, insurance policy etc., are in the US and as I understand it would come under US inheritance law.  So when you say my German Daughter is still able to claim the Pflichtteil of 1/4 of my estate from my wife-Does that mean that even if the house is in my Wife’s name my Daughter can still demand a ¼ share of the house upon my death?
Thanks,

Answer
Dear Larry,

I have to correct my answer because you are a US citizen and this means according to Art 25 I EGBGB  US law applies for your estate. I am not aware if your daughter is allowed to claim anything according to US-law.

According to Art 25 II EGBGB you can choose German law in your will for the house in Germany.

But if you die in Germany the German probate court will handle the distribution of the estate.

Therefore I would recommend that you get a will according to US law if that is in your favor and a certified German translation.

I am sorry for the confusion I caused with my first answers. If you have further questions and concerns you can contact me at csb@germanlegalservices.com to discuss this matter in a phone consultation.   

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

German Legal Services
306 South Walker Street
Columbia, SC 29205
www.germanlegalservices.com
Tel. +1 803 254-8153
Fax +1 803 753-9295  

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Carolin Schulz-Burgess

Expertise

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

Experience

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.

Organizations
World Affairs Council, German Bar Association

Publications
North Carolina Bar Association Newsletter

Education/Credentials
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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