International inheritance law

For our inheritance law specialists, international inheritance law means: inheritance matters with a foreign connection. There is no standardised international inheritance law.

Cross-border aspects can arise in many different ways. (Real) property located abroad, testators with multiple nationalities, international business assets and foreign matrimonial property regimes are just some of the conceivable problem areas that the lawyers at our firm deal with on an ongoing basis. We have many years of experience in this area and a wide network of specialised foreign colleagues with whom we can also solve complex cases.

Basic principle of international inheritance law

In every inheritance case with a foreign connection, it must be clarified which legal system is applicable, which court is competent and whether different inheritance laws are to be applied by different courts. We clarify whether and, if so, which channels are available.

International inheritance law - German jurisdiction

German courts have sole international jurisdiction for inheritance matters with a foreign connection if German law is applicable or if the testator's last place of residence was in Germany.

Option for testators

The choice of applicable inheritance law is important for foreign testators who, for example, have their habitual residence in Germany or Germans whose assets have a foreign connection or who live abroad. The conditions under which a choice is possible and when a choice of law is permissible can only be clarified on a case-by-case basis. Whether the law of your place of residence or the law of your home country (e.g. Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Danish) or German inheritance law should apply can be decided together with our specialist lawyers for inheritance law.

Thanks to our law firm's network in the field of international inheritance law, we have access to experts from other jurisdictions for advice.

Change of citizenship - Great Britain's withdrawal from the EU

If you are considering a change of nationality in connection with the UK's withdrawal from the EU, for example because your habitual residence is in the UK, it may make sense to amend your will. There is a possibility that English inheritance law will not apply. Our specialist lawyers for inheritance law can provide you with information about your personal options.

Procedural issues in inheritance law with a foreign connection

National procedural regulations play a major role in the context of inheritance law cases with a foreign connection. A German probate court may not be able to carry out activities that are foreign to German procedural law but are necessary under the law of another country. In order to avoid or resolve incompatibilities, legal advice for testators is advisable. In this context, we also advise foreign heirs on obtaining German legitimisation documents (certificate of inheritance, European certificate of inheritance, certificate of executorship, certificate of administration of wills).

International inheritance law with European references

For all inheritance cases with European connections that occur after 17 August 2015, the European Inheritance Regulation direct validity. It is therefore also of particular importance in legal advice.

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