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German Law/Inheritance claim after 10 years


QUESTION: Dear Andreas,

Hope all is well! I am writing to you having read one of your posts online regarding inheritance.

I have a German passport with Swiss permit B and Monegasque residentship.

I am a single child 23 years old. My father also German citizen deceased over 10 years ago. And my mother still living also German. I can see that by law I was entitled to 50% of what my father owned. But have never been given anything. I do not believe he had a will. And therefore I have been cheated out of my legal inheritance by my mother.

My father was a very successful business man, started a company still now running now and we have property in Switzerland and Germany.

Out of curiosity is there anything I can do at this point to claim legally?

Kind regards,

ANSWER: Hello,

the exact share of your entitlement after your father's death in case of him passing away without any last will depends on how many siblings you have (or more accurately: how many other children your father had) and what kind of agreement had regarding their marital property. Assuming that your parents had no prenuptial agreement and you had/have no siblings, you were indeed entitled to receive 50% of the estate.

In your case, you were a minor child at the time of your father's death. This does not exclude you ( 1923 I BGB), but it means that your mother would have represented you legally in accepting the inheritance.

German law does not require that you explicitly accept the inheritance ( 1922 I, 1942 I BGB). If you (or in your case your mother as your representative) did not decline the inheritance within 6 weeks after your father's death ( 1944 I BGB), you inherited your share. The property was transferred to you by law.

I therefore recommend that you contact your mother and speak to her about this issue.
If she believes that she inherited everything, you have a claim against her for information about all the property that you inherited ( 2027 I BGB). Your claims to your property only expire after 30 years ( 197 I Nr. 2 BGB).

Of course all of that will be different if there was a testament.

Good luck!
Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Thank you for your prompt reply. This is the most information anyone has given me so far.
My mother inists there is nothing for me and I am not entitled to anything. I am unaware of any accounts of mine  that may exist. I am 23 as I told you, have no siblings, (my father had no other children) and there is no will according my mother. My father would've wanted me to have a share, and my mother is unwilling to give me anything. Please let me know what I can do in order to proceed and file a claim. If she has been lying about this, what are the consequences?
Also anything regarding the costs of such proceedings.

I really appreciated your knowledge
Many thanks
Dom S

I am sorry to hear that your mother is giving you such a hard time.

The first thing to do would be to contact the "Nachlassgericht" of the city where your father last lived and ask them to see the file. This will show if there is a testament or not and what kind of property was passed on. It should also reveal if your mother tried to hide the fact of your existence.
Depending on what is in the file, you may be able to obtain a certificate of inheritance ("Erbschein") from the court, showing that you are entitled to 50% of the property. Then you could take it from there.

The costs of these proceedings cannot really be estimated as they depend on the level of cooperation of your mother (she might become more cooperative once she sees that you are seriously pursuing your claim) and the number and type and value of the assets.

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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