Dismissing an inheritance: costs, deadlines and the most important tips

Rejecting an inheritance – The inheritance can be rejected by any heir. This is particularly important if the inheritance is over-indebted 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.

Reject inheritance – makes sense depending on the situation

The inheritance does not always hold only good things in store for the descendants. Even if many dream of riches and expensive jewellery, debts or dilapidated real estate can also be part of the estate. In such cases, it is possible to disclaim the inheritance within a certain period of time and in accordance with certain criteria. What happens to the inheritance afterwards and how you can best proceed in such a case is now explained by the experts at Lukinski.

The form and deadline – you must pay attention to this

To disclaim the inheritance requires some rules. Simply notifying the family or simply having no reaction to the inheritance is not enough. The form is very crucial. The heir must make a disclaimer to the probate court either in the form of a transcript or in a publicly notarized form. However, a simple letter is not sufficient. A personal appearance before the probate court is also possible. There, the heir explains his or her request and a judicial officer records it in writing. The local court in whose district the deceased had his or her last residence is responsible. If the deceased is German, but had his residence abroad, the Berlin-Schöneberg Local Court is responsible. In Baden-Württemberg there is a special regulation. In this federal state, the state notary’s office is your contact.

However, not only the form is very decisive for the success of the disclaimer, but also the content and the deadline of the declaration. This must have clearly listed why the inheritance does not want to be accepted. The reasons should be clearly listed. These may include, for example, that the estate consists mainly of debts. The declaration is subject to a so-called six-week period. If the heir does not wish to accept the inheritance, the relevant declaration must be submitted to the competent probate court within six weeks, otherwise the inheritance is deemed to have been accepted. The cut-off date is assumed to be the day on which you learned of the inheritance, which usually coincides with the day of death. The deadline is only extended in certain exceptional cases. For example, if the deceased or the heir himself is abroad at the time of death, the six-week deadline can be postponed.

Generally speaking, the probate court does not have a duty to bring. The heirs are only notified of the inheritance if there is a will or if they succeed to the inheritance because, for example, someone else has already disclaimed the inheritance. In all other cases, the heirs are assumed to know whether or not they inherit anything from a deceased family member.

  • The correct form is decisive in order to make the disclaimer of the inheritance legally effective.
  • The content of the declaration must contain precise reasons for the renunciation of the inheritance
  • Heirs are not informed of their role as heirs by the probate court unless there is an estate, or they succeed to the estate as heirs

Inheritance: Accept or reject? – Tips from a lawyer

Rejecting an inheritance – When does it make sense?

No heir is obliged to accept the inheritance. This is mainly for the protection of the heir, because he or she receives not only the assets but also the debts of the deceased, for which he or she is liable with his or her own private assets. Before an inheritance is therefore started or struck, each heir should first of all get a precise overview of the assets and debts of the deceased. These include bank balances, securities, valuables, land and real estate, but also funeral costs, loans, maintenance arrears or compulsory portion claims. The costs of an estate administration or a will opening can likewise be added. If this examination shows that there is more debit than credit, it makes sense to disclaim the inheritance. If real estate in need of renovation is part of the estate, a detailed examination is also necessary. If the inheritance is accepted, a lot of money must be invested in the renovation work, which can be very expensive depending on the case. Therefore, you should carefully consider whether you want to accept the inheritance in such a case or not.

  • An over-indebted inheritance can lead to the financial ruin of the heir
  • Renovable real estate can be part of the inheritance and lower the value of it

The costs – disclaiming inheritance in the event of overindebtedness

If the inheritance is overindebted, the costs are very low. The fees for disclaiming the inheritance are a flat rate of 30 euros at the probate court. If an inheritance that is not overindebted is rejected, the costs are incurred in accordance with the Court and Notary Costs Act. The higher the value of the estate, the more expensive the proceedings will be.

An inheritance can only ever be disclaimed in full. Accepting the assets and disclaiming the debts is therefore not possible. If an inheritance is disclaimed, the heir is no longer entitled to the compulsory portion, which is normally due to each heir according to the law. If the estate is disclaimed by all possible heirs, it becomes the property of the state. The latter uses the assets (if any) to pay off part of the debts. The creditors of the remaining debts are left empty-handed in such a case.

  • The cost of eliminating an inheritance in the event of overindebtedness is very low
  • An inheritance can only ever be accepted or disclaimed in full.

Udecide in retrospect – is this possible?

Once an inheritance has been accepted or the deadline has passed, there is usually no turning back. However, once again exceptions confirm the rule. In certain cases, it is possible to withdraw from the inheritance after the fact. If, for example, it comes to light after the acceptance of the inheritance that the estate contains a large loan from the deceased, of which you were unaware until then, the acceptance of the inheritance can be contested. However, as a prerequisite, you must have had full knowledge of the assets and debts of the estate. However, if the heir wants to contest the acceptances because the six-week period was not known or it was not clear when it starts, this is also possible with a good lawyer.

In the opposite case, there are also some possibilities. If the inheritance was disclaimed due to over-indebtedness and it subsequently transpires that the estate does not contain as many debts as was assumed at the outset, the disclaimer cannot be contested. If, however, it subsequently transpires that securities or real estate are part of the estate of which you had no knowledge at the time of the disclaimer, a challenge is very much possible. The contestation must be declared in writing to the probate court within six weeks after the error has been recognised and must state the reasons for the contestation.

  • Depending on the case, a subsequent disclaimer of the inheritance is possible
  • However, the disclaimer of the inheritance can also be challenged retrospectively.

Read more about inheriting without a will!

The most important questions on the subject of disclaiming an inheritance

Many regulations, deadlines and declarations make the disclaimer of an inheritance complicated. So that no questions remain unanswered for you, our experts at Lukinski answer the most important questions on the subject of disclaiming an inheritance.

What does it cost to disclaim an inheritance?

The cost of disclaiming an inheritance in the event of over-indebtedness is a flat rate of 30 euros. If an estate that is not overindebted is disclaimed, the costs are calculated according to the amount of the estate.

What if you disclaim an inheritance?

If an heir disclaims the estate, he or she is no longer entitled to take over the assets and debts of the deceased and is not liable for them with his or her private assets. With a disclaimer, the heir loses all rights and claims he or she has to the estate. This also includes the compulsory portion.

When does the deadline begin to disclaim inheritance?

The six-week period to disclaim the inheritance begins when the heir becomes aware of his or her status as one. In most cases, the period begins with the knowledge of the death of the testator, that is, the date of his death.

What is the intestate succession?

If no will has been left or if it has been found to be invalid, the legal succession applies. This is based on the degree of kinship and the marital property status of the testator. The relatives are divided into three orders for this purpose.

What do I have to do to disclaim an inheritance?

The heir must present himself in person at the probate court of his own residence or the last residence of the deceased, identify himself and disclaim the inheritance. On the spot, the rejection is put on record.

What happens to the debt after death?

In principle, after death, both the assets and the debts pass to the heirs as long as they do not disclaim the inheritance.

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