Berliner Testament: German Inheritance Law Explained, Amount for Children, Partner + More

Joint Will – In Germany, the Berlin Testament decides on the legal portion of heir. It is an important issue for disinherited relatives, as they still have certain rights to the inheritance. In order to claim this correctly and to fulfill the formalities, however, some things have to be considered. The share always depends on the other heirs and the amount of the inheritance.

Legal Portion Despite Disinheritance – You have these Rights

In many families there are conflicts, which often lead to parents wanting to disinherit their children. The parents must determine this wish in their will. Much more common, however, is the desire to disinherit the children only until both spouses are dead. This is possible with the so-called Berlin will. The longer living spouse is therefore first the sole heir and only after his death the common children inherit. Learn here which alternatives the law offers and how the legal portion is determined.

Disinheriting Relatives – Will, Inheritance Contract, Berlin Testament

Basically, each person is free to decide who to appoint as heirs and who to disinherit. The testator does not have to justify in his will why he excludes a relative from the succession. However, an exclusion does not mean that the heir receives nothing, because every heir is entitled to a compulsory portion. This entitlement must be requested by the heir himself, because the certificate of inheritance does not mention these entitlements to a compulsory portion. If a testator sets a person as sole heir, this means on the one hand that this person alone inherits the entire estate but also that no one else should inherit who would actually be entitled to inherit.

Married couples can disinherit close relatives together in an inheritance contract or a Berliner Testament. In a classic form of the Berlin Testament, the spouses stipulated that the partner who lived longer would become the sole heir and the children would only inherit when both spouses had died. The parents therefore disinherit their children until both have died. If someone is disinherited, the part of the inheritance that would have been due to this heir is due to the person who would have become heir if the disinherited had already died at the time of the inheritance.

The Entitlement – Only the Next of Kin Receive the Compulsory Portion

Despite disinheritance, close relatives are entitled to part of the assets. This fact is based in the law on the duty of care that the deceased has for his close relatives even after his death. However, this applies only to the next of kin, which, according to the law, are determined as follows: Close relatives include legitimate, illegitimate and adopted children, the spouse, as long as the marriage is still effective at the time of inheritance, partners in a registered same-sex partnership and parents of the deceased, if there are no children. Grandchildren are only eligible if they have been excluded from the inheritance and their parents are no longer alive. Siblings and grandparents of the deceased are not entitled to a compulsory portion of the inheritance and are therefore not to be understood as close relatives. Whoever is disinherited must assert a right to the legal portion of heir’s estate against the other heirs.The Amount – this is how the compulsory portion is calculated

The compulsory portion is half of the legal inheritance that the person is entitled to. For the exact calculation, all relatives must be taken into account, both the heirs and the disinherited, as well as those who have rejected the inheritance. Those who are not taken into consideration are those who have already renounced the inheritance during the testator’s lifetime.

The example explains the distribution of the inheritance as follows: There is a testator who leaves three children as heirs. Child1 has already rejected the inheritance during the testator’s lifetime. Child2 has been disinherited by the testator and must claim his compulsory portion from Child3, who has been designated as sole heir in the will. In a normal inheritance case, each child would receive one third of the estate. Since Kind1 has already waived the inheritance during his lifetime, this is removed from the calculation. The inheritance is therefore divided half each between Child2 and Child3. As Child2 was disinherited, he is only entitled to the legal portion of heir, i.e. half of his actual inheritance. Child2 thus inherits a quarter of the inheritance and child3, as sole heir, inherits three quarters of the inheritance.</block quota>.
If the odds are clearly calculated, the value of the discount can be determined to find out how much is allocated to each odds. Decisive for this second calculation is the market value. This is based on the amount that the heirs could obtain in the event of a sale. For this determination it is often necessary to have the value of real estate, companies or land estimated by experts. The costs incurred for this, however, reduce the right to the compulsory portion. It is therefore advisable, especially for small estates, to determine the value without an expert and to agree among themselves on a compulsory portion.

Remove compulsory portion – these are the Testators’ Rights

Under special circumstances it is possible for parents to disinherit their children completely and also to withdraw the compulsory portion from them. This wish must be expressly ordered and justified in the will. The BGB sets out some reasons for a complete disinheritance. In § 2333 BGB the following is listed, who can be completely disinherited:

  • Seeks to kill the testator or a close relative
  • Has been sentenced to imprisonment without parole for a criminal offence for at least one year, or is being held in a psychiatric hospital or rehab facility for that reason
  • Has committed a crime against the testator or a person close to the testator. This includes, for example, theft or bodily injury.
  • Killed the testator or both parents

In general, it must be unreasonable for the testator to leave his share to the beneficiary of the compulsory portion as the minimum economic participation. No reason for a complete disinheritance is, for example, a child who has broken off all contact with the parents and does not care for them. If a child is disinherited in the will and the testator forgives this child however before the death, the disposition in the will is ineffective.

Claims for a compulsory portion are subject to a limitation period of three years. This begins with the end of the year in which the claim arose. As a rule, this means on 01 January of the year following the year of death.

The Most Important Questions on the Subject of the Legal Portion of Heirship

The issue of the compulsory portion and disinheritance in the will is a difficult one that often raises questions among those affected. To ensure that you are well informed and do not make any mistakes regarding deadlines or form, the Lukinski experts will answer all important questions on the subject of the legal portion of heir.

How much is the compulsory portion in percent?

The compulsory portion of a disinherited relative is half of the inheritance share that is actually due. The percentage must be determined on a case-by-case basis, as it depends on how many co-heirs there are and how much of the inheritance is.

How high is the compulsory portion with 3 children?

If the inheritance is divided equally among three children, each would receive one third of the estate. If one of the three is disinherited and therefore demands the legal portion of heir, he would receive half of the inheritance that he would actually have been entitled to. In this example one sixth of the inheritance.

Can a compulsory portion become time-barred?

A compulsory portion shall become time-barred after three years. The period begins on January 1 of the year following the year of death.

Can the compulsory portion be refused?

In order to receive a legal portion of heir, the heir must claim it. If he does not do so, the claim expires after three years. The heir with a right to the compulsory portion does not have to reject it, but simply does not have to claim it.

What is the compulsory portion in the case of disinheritance?

If an heir has been disinherited by the testator in the will, the testator is still entitled to a legal portion of heir. This compulsory portion amounts to half of the legal inheritance.

Can the compulsory portion be claimed during one’s lifetime?

The compulsory portion can be paid by the testator during his or her lifetime in the form of a gift or compensation to the disinherited relative. A claim is not possible, only an agreement with the testator allows this alternative.