Accepting an inheritance: House, debts – This is what you inherit

As soon as a property has been inherited, the question arises as to how it is to be used: do I occupy it myself or rent it out? What costs are incurred when accepting and disclaiming the inheritance? It must be clarified whether one is an heir or a legatee. An heir receives the assets as a whole in accordance with §1922 of the German Civil Code (BGB). In contrast to the classic inheritance, however, a legacy can only refer to one asset, e.g. the property. Legally, the legatee does not become a legal successor within the meaning of §1939 BGB.

Inherited house and debts

However, the heir is the legal successor and is therefore also liable for the debts of the deceased. With the acceptance of the inheritance, you may have to pay for existing real estate loans and tax debts with your own assets. In order to avert possible dangers, please approach us in good time. Only in very few cases can acceptance or disclaimer of an inheritance be reversed. We advise you on all questions and formalities concerning the inheritance. With the acceptance of the inheritance, an application for land register correction (§ 82 Land Register Code, GBO) must be made.

Split up

Inheritance to a community of heirs can be problematic. In this case, different parties (e.g. siblings) inherit the real estate assets. Different interests can make use and sale difficult. The sale of the property is generally not possible without a unanimous decision. In the course of the inheritance settlement, it is possible to divide the property and thus end the community of heirs. Agreements on division can be, for example, a cash payment to the first heir, a transfer of property shares to a second heir and the transfer of ownership of a property of the same value to a third heir. All solutions require an objective and realistic valuation of the property.

Own use or rental of the inheritance

Often there is a close personal connection to the parental home. But other objective criteria should be taken into account in the decision:

  • What is the condition of the property (renovation backlog)?
  • What conversion measures are necessary?
  • Is there any possibility of paying off a possible community of heirs?

Debt trap real estate inheritance

If the inherited property is in excellent condition, it can also be rented out. In many cases, however, the sums to be spent on renovation and modernisation are too high to generate a return on renting out the property. The yield calculation can still be relatively positive for an apartment building even with a renovation backlog. Since the sale of the inherited property is in many cases the only way to settle the inheritance dispute, the heirs often sell far below value.

More information about inheritance:

Inheritance settlement

Properties inherited in community pose a particular difficulty when selling. Within the framework of a community of heirs, there are several owners in the land register. This circumstance has a detrimental effect on the interest of potential buyers and makes the sale process more difficult. There is a solution to simplify the settlement and at the same time provide for a clear guideline of all heirs with equal rights. The settlement of an estate refers to the dissolution of a community of heirs, which is carried out on the basis of clear contractual regulations and is not bound by any particular form. Everything you need to know about inheritance settlement.

Community of heirs

From practice it is known that a community of heirs rather rarely agree. But from the disagreement and open disputes in relation to a real estate inheritance arise losses that you can avoid with prudence. Avoid conflicts about the estate by consulting an estate agent and finding the best way with support. If the will does not provide otherwise, all co-heirs are equally entitled and obliged. This means that a sale is often the best solution and gives you the opportunity to divide the proceeds of the estate between all the co-heirs, thus avoiding the problem of an inheritance dispute. Learn more about the community of heirs.

Inheritance tax

For many heirs, grief, joy and sorrow are closely linked. When you inherit a house, this process is always linked to a painful, emotional loss. After some time, a slight joy spreads and you realize that you are a homeowner. At the same time comes the worry that the tax office will claim inheritance tax from you and you will only be able to pay this amount if you sell the house. You have an exemption amount, below which there is generally no inheritance tax. The amount of this allowance is based on your degree of relationship to the deceased. Spouses can inherit real estate tax-free up to 500,000 euros, children up to 400,000 euros. To ensure that you do not pay speculation tax, you should consider whether you would like to live in the inherited house yourself if it was acquired less than 10 years ago. Everything about inheritance tax.

Certificate of inheritance

You are registered in the will as the sole heir of the parental home. If the will is notarised and legally valid, your inheritance will not be challenged. Nevertheless, without an additional certificate of inheritance, you will face a problem at the latest if you become the owner of the property as a result of the correction in the land register and wish to sell it on, for example. You should have a certificate of inheritance issued irrespective of the will and thus protect yourself when inheriting houses or apartments. Everything about the certificate of inheritance.

Partition auction in communities of heirs

The partial auction is a special variant of the forced sale and is used when several persons have ownership of a thing. This often involves a plot of land or a property that is auctioned off and the proceeds divided among the owners. This situation often occurs in communities of heirs whose estates include real property or land. In a community of heirs, the heirs share ownership of the estate property. Accordingly, each of them can dispose of his or her own share, but of the entire property only in agreement with the others. Everything about the partition auction.

Bequeath debts

An inheritance does not primarily mean wealth and new possessions. An inheritance is often burdened with debts and means a great deal of responsibility for the heirs. After death, the heirs not only take over the assets, but also the rights and obligations of the deceased. If this includes debts, the heirs are also liable for them with their private assets. If an inheritance occurs, the inheritance should be carefully examined and checked for debts. Learn more about inheriting debts.


The estate can be disclaimed by any heir. This is particularly important if the inheritance is overindebted or if, for example, dilapidated real estate is part of the inheritance. However, a disclaimer requires certain forms and deadlines that must be observed. Precise information about the assets and debts of the testator is therefore extremely important. The right advice is the key to success in such a case. Everything about the inheritance.

Intestate succession

The law of succession comes into force if there is no will. This regulates who receives the assets of the deceased after a death and how this is done. Communities of heirs can be formed if there are several heirs and the estate passes into their possession. Communities of heirs are automatically formed after the death of the deceased if there are multiple heirs. These must then divide the estate among themselves and make joint decisions about inherited property, such as real estate. If you want to decide for yourself which relatives inherit which property, you should draw up a will and regulate everything in detail. Learn more about inheriting without a will.

Mandatory share of the inheritance

The compulsory portion is an important topic for disinherited relatives, because they still have certain claims to the inheritance. However, in order to claim this correctly and to comply with the formalities, a number of things must be observed. The share always depends on the other heirs and the amount of the estate. Read more about the compulsory portion of the inheritance now.

Allowances for inheritance

In order to protect the heirs from a large financial burden, different tax rates and allowances apply depending on the degree of relationship. These allowances include various things that do not have to be taxed, so that the heirs do not have to hand over the most as taxes, especially in the case of a large estate. Everything on the subject of tax allowances!