Drawing up a will and making provisions

Writing a will gives a testator the opportunity to organise their succession according to their own wishes and thus bypass the statutory succession. In German law, the so-called freedom to make a will applies; it is guaranteed by the Basic Law and is a right that everyone should utilise. However, the limits of autonomous regulation of the estate must be observed. These can result from legal restrictions such as the right to a compulsory portion. However, the testator himself may also have restricted his freedom of testamentary disposition, for example through reciprocal dispositions within the framework of a joint will such as the so-called Berlin will. Finally, there are legal types of arrangements that a testator must make use of.

The work of our law firm's inheritance law specialists is geared towards your wishes. The precise determination of these wishes and the conflict-avoiding, clear and legally correct formulation of your last will and testament form the guidelines of our work when you draw up a will together with us. We explain the legal contexts and discuss with you questions of provision for spouses, children or stepchildren. Thanks to our work in litigation, we know where conflicts may arise and how wills can be formulated in such a way as to avoid disputes after the death.

Creating a will taking into account special topics

In the practical work of our law firm, drawing up a will often touches on special subject areas. For example, our specialist lawyers for inheritance law regularly deal with business wills, divorce wills, wills for the disabled, care and precautionary powers of attorney.

In the case of business assets, our lawyers involve your advisors in the structuring process or draw on excellent tax and asset management specialists. Contact our law firm in Hamburg and Kiel for more information on our expertise in specific areas of estate planning and to arrange an appointment.

Writing a will

In order to draw up an effective will, the testator must have testamentary capacity and draw up the will personally. This means that an authorised representative or legal representative cannot draw up a will for the testator.

As mentioned above, inheritance law provides for types of arrangements that the testator must use to realise his or her wishes. In summary, these include sole and joint inheritance, prior and subsequent inheritance, bequests, stipulations, division arrangements and execution of the will.

Joint will

Spouses can draw up a joint will.

A joint will, also known as a spouse's will, can contain so-called reciprocal dispositions. However, this is by no means the case with every joint will and can lead to considerable problems in individual cases. If a mutual will has been concluded to a certain extent, one spouse makes a specific disposition because the other spouse makes a corresponding disposition in a specific way. Both therefore rely on the other when drawing up the will. Alternate dispositions severely restrict the ability of one spouse to change his or her will after the death of the first deceased spouse.

The most important example is the so-called Berlin will, in which spouses appoint each other as heirs and stipulate that the entire estate should go to the children after the death of the last to die. It is then virtually impossible to correct the will years later.

Joint wills in international inheritance law

In some cases, foreign legal systems strictly prohibit the drafting of a joint will. Inheritance law in Italy, Spain and France, for example, recognises the risk of influencing the will of the testator.

Contract of inheritance

The inheritance contract solves a practical problem faced by people who want to be cared for in old age, for example. Other motives such as working in the parental company or special types of pension benefits can also be the focus of an inheritance contract.

Based on the first example, care in old age should be compensated for by appointing the carer as an heir. However, leaving an inheritance in a will would not provide sufficient security for the carer, as this could be revoked if necessary. However, provision is often made for care services to be paid for during a person's lifetime, as carers are often unable to provide reliable lifelong care due to relocation, illness or personal changes.

The inheritance contract, which is not a contract of obligation - comparable to an exchange contract, for example - can be used to achieve a higher level of commitment.

The specialist lawyers for inheritance law at Schneider Stein & Partner will provide you with targeted and consensus-orientated advice based on many years of experience. Please feel free to contact us.

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