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Legal succession
Legal succession

Video: Legal succession

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Video: LAW ON SUCCESSION: Everything you need to know in less than 15 minutes! 2023, February
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The legal succession comes into force if there is no will. In this case, you should know this about compulsory shares, separation of goods, disinheritance or the possibility of turning down your inheritance.

Table of contents Table of contents Legal succession: This is how the state distributes the inheritance

  • What does “legal succession” mean?
  • Apply for a certificate of inheritance
  • Who inherits how much?
  • Overview of the order of the legal succession
  • Spouse and life partner in the legal succession
  • How is the legal succession in the separation of property regulated?
  • The mandatory share
  • How can you circumvent the legal succession?

Table of contents Table of contents Legal succession: This is how the state distributes the inheritance

  • What does “legal succession” mean?
  • Apply for a certificate of inheritance
  • Who inherits how much?
  • Overview of the order of the legal succession
  • Spouse and life partner in the legal succession
  • How is the legal succession in the separation of property regulated?
  • The mandatory share
  • How can you circumvent the legal succession?

In the event of death, the legal succession clarifies the distribution of the estate if there is no will. But it is not only the assets of a deceased that are distributed along with real estate, securities and other valuables, such as cars and home technology, based on the legal succession. Any existing debts can also be transferred to the relatives of the deceased.

What does “legal succession” mean?

Legal succession means that a legacy is regulated on the basis of the BGB (Civil Code). This usually occurs if the deceased has left neither a will nor an inheritance contract. In the legal succession, relatives are taken into account according to their degree of kinship. But spouses and registered partners also receive an inheritance share. Spouses, stepchildren, godchildren and other persons for whom there are no direct relatives are excluded from the legal succession. You only inherit if you have been mentioned in a will or contract of inheritance.

Apply for a certificate of inheritance

As an heir, you basically have to take care of your inheritance yourself. If there is no will or contract of inheritance, you can prove your right to inherit with a certificate of inheritance. The certificate of inheritance not only confirms that you are a legal heir, but also shows the proportion in which you are entitled to the estate (inheritance rate). However, you must apply for your inheritance certificate from the probate court yourself. Caution: you should be sure that you really want to inherit. Because the inheritance certificate also makes you heir to any debts of the deceased. Fees apply for the inheritance certificate, which are calculated according to the value of the estate. For a discount of around 10, 000 euros, 150 euros are incurred, for 200, 000 euros it is 870 euros. If you only want to claim your compulsory portion, you must not apply for a certificate of inheritance, but must address your claims to the named heirs.

Testament
Testament

If the deceased has left neither a will nor an inheritance contract, the legal succession regulates the estate. Relatives are taken into account according to their degree of kinship.

Photo: iStock / nobtis

Who inherits how much?

The legal succession depends on the degree of kinship. The order is determined by so-called orders. First-order relatives are children and grandchildren (§ 1924 BGB). Parents and siblings are relatives of the second order (§ 1925 BGB). Grandparents, uncles and aunts belong to third-order relatives (§ 1926 BGB). As long as there are relatives of a higher order, the more distant relatives do not inherit anything. Spouses and life partners usually receive 25 percent of the inheritance. In the case of a profit sharing community, the rate increases to 50 percent. The rest will be shared among the children.

Overview of the order of the legal succession

Drei Generationen
Drei Generationen

The legacy depends on the degree of kinship.

Photo: iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

1. Children and grandchildren: If the deceased has one or more children, these are considered first in the succession. If the children have died, the grandchildren will take their place.

2. Parents and siblings: If the deceased has no children or grandchildren, the testator's parents are taken into account in the legal succession. Siblings are only legally entitled if there are no longer any parents who could accept the estate.

3. Grandparents, uncles and aunts: If there are no relatives of the first and second order, grandparents and then uncles and aunts can be considered for the estate. Other relatives will follow successively according to their degree of kinship.

Spouse and life partner in the legal succession

In the case of a profit sharing community, the surviving partner receives a flat-rate profit equalization of 25 percent. This increases the share of the inheritance from 25 to 50 percent - regardless of how many children are entitled to inheritance. If the partnership remained childless, the statutory share of inheritance is 75 percent. The rest falls to second-order relatives, i.e. the deceased's parents or siblings. Registered life partners are largely equal to spouses in inheritance law. Divorced partners, however, are not entitled to inheritance. If there is life insurance, this does not fall under the inheritance law. It is paid in full to the beneficiary.

How is the legal succession in the separation of property regulated?

If the spouses have agreed on a separation of property, the flat-rate profit sharing will not apply. This basically means that the 25 percent that the partner is entitled to at least according to the legal succession. If there are no children and grandchildren, the quota increases to 50 percent of the estate. The partner is a sole heir if there are no first- or second-order relatives who could inherit. However, if there are children, the inheritance is distributed as follows in accordance with § 1931 BGB:

  • In the case of one or two children, partners and children inherit in equal parts.
  • With three or more children, the partner inherits 25 percent.

The reason for this regulation is that the partner inherits no less than the children. In the case of a separation of property, however, the partner must fully tax his inheritance.

The mandatory share

If the next of kin have been disinherited, they are still entitled to a mandatory share. This applies both to marital, illegitimate and adopted children, as well as to partners whose marriage still existed legally at the time of death. Parents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can also claim compulsory shares if they would otherwise have inherited regularly. Grandparents and siblings do not get a mandatory share. The compulsory portion is 50 percent of the regular legal inheritance. If the actual inheritance corresponds to 50, 000 euros, the compulsory portion corresponds to 25, 000 euros. The compulsory portion is not paid out automatically, but must be claimed by the heirs. If the heir or community of heirs refuses to pay the compulsory portion, a complaint is often unavoidable.

How can you circumvent the legal succession?

Heirs are protected by the BGB. If they are only granted a small share of the inheritance, they are entitled to the payment of an additional mandatory share in order to receive the full mandatory share. In principle, testators can only retain the compulsory portion due to serious misconduct. An example of this would be a suspended prison sentence for at least one year. The withdrawal of the compulsory portion must be recorded in the will and can be reversed due to a change in lifestyle. The legal succession can also be avoided with a gift. Donations can be credited retrospectively to the inheritance, but only proportionately for the past ten years.

Anja Schmidt

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