Apply for a certificate of inheritance
The death of a loved one is followed by a difficult time for the bereaved. Unfortunately, inheritance law requires that the heirs deal with the related formalities shortly after the death of a family member. These formalities are fewer if the testator has taken care of a will in advance. If this is not the case, you will need a certificate of inheritance in some cases. Our notary’s office in Cologne will be happy to help you with the application to the court. Our notaries will be happy to advise you.
Regulating inheritance law – our service in Cologne
If you need a judicial proof of your right of inheritance, our notaries will be happy to assist you in applying for a certificate of inheritance and/or a European Certificate of Succession. We formulate the necessary applications, submit them to the court with all the necessary documents and also check the correctness of the certificate of inheritance issued as a result.
The most important information on the certificate of inheritance at a glance:
- What is a certificate of inheritance for?
To identify yourself as an heir, for example to the bank or insurance company.
- Where do I apply for a certificate of inheritance?
The certificate of inheritance is applied for at the competent probate court. The notary public can take care of this for you.
- How much does it cost to apply for a certificate of inheritance?
The costs depend on the estate value of the inheritance.
- Who can apply for the certificate of inheritance?
Only heirs, not disinherited persons, can apply for the certificate of inheritance.
What is a certificate of inheritance?
The certificate of inheritance is an identity card that records which person is the heir or in which relation to each other several persons inherit the estate. In addition, the certificate of inheritance shows how much of your inheritance is. This certificate of inheritance is issued by the probate court as soon as it has been applied for. The “Strong” probate court is the district court of the deceased’s last place of residence. If you have to identify yourself in legal transactions, a certificate of inheritance is required. The certificate of inheritance is not a prerequisite for receiving the inherited assets. It merely proves that you are the actual heir.
Can I refuse the inheritance if I have applied for a certificate of inheritance?
As an heir, you should be aware that when you apply for a certificate of inheritance, the inheritance is automatically accepted and possible debts are inherited. You can then no longer refuse the inheritance if the estate is in debt. If you do not want to regret the inheritance afterwards, you can have the inheritance checked by a lawyer to see if it is over-indebted. According to inheritance law, heirs have only six weeks after the death of the testator to reject the inheritance.
Do you have to apply for a certificate of inheritance in case of inheritance ?
If you can identify yourself as an heir in another way, you do not need to apply for a certificate of inheritance. Therefore, you should clarify whether you need a certificate of inheritance at all before you apply. The certificate of inheritance is usually required to be presented when the land register changes for a plot of land or a property, when there is a change of partners, by landlords or by banks. If the testator has made a notarial will, this can in many cases replace the certificate of inheritance as identification.
Important:You only need the certificate of inheritance if you cannot identify yourself as the heir in any other way, for example with a “strong” will, inheritance contract or general power of attorney, or if it is unclear who will inherit the assets.
Minor heirs must be represented by a parent or guardian if they wish to apply for a certificate of inheritance.
What documents must be brought along for the application?
In order to be prepared for an appointment with the Notary, you should compile the necessary documents for applying for a certificate of inheritance in advance. As a rule, the following documents are necessary for the certificate of inheritance:
- Identity card
- Death certificate of the testator
- Civil status documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and family register
- Cases available: will or contract of inheritance
These documents will be submitted to the probate court if you wish to file the petition. If the certificate of inheritance is based on false statements or documents, it will be withdrawn by the court. The heirs then face criminal and civil law consequences.
What other information must be given for a certificate of inheritance?
If there is no will, the legal succession takes place. The applicant should also provide the following information:
- The date of death of the testator
- The relationship to the testator
- Nationality and last residence of the deceased
- Possible reasons why the inheritance could be reduced
- Estate value
- Address of the heirs
- The size of the estate
- The acceptance of the inheritance (plus any debts)
- Cases available: will, inheritance contract or general power of attorney
- Cases pending: Details of the legal inheritance dispute
If a will or inheritance contract exists, the following information is also important:
- information on which his law of succession is based
- Information on other dispositions of the deceased
Further information on the statutory succession can be found under benefits: will.
What does “affirmative action” mean?
If there are several heirs, a community certificate of inheritance can be applied for. All heirs and inheritance shares must be specified in the certificate. All heirs must also confirm that they accept the inheritance. If you make an appointment with a notary public, the application for the certificate of inheritance can also be combined directly with a land register correction, should the heirs inherit real estate or property.
What are the deadlines for applying for the certificate of inheritance?
There are no deadlines for the application for a certificate of inheritance. You can therefore still apply for a certificate of inheritance years after the death of the testator. However, the issue of the certificate of inheritance may take several weeks, depending on the scope of the application.
Do I need a special certificate of inheritance for an inheritance abroad?
If part of your inheritance, for example real estate, is located in another European country, a European Certificate of Succession may be required there. The certificate of inheritance under German law is then no longer sufficient to identify yourself as the heir in a legally secure manner.
Since 2015 it has therefore been possible to apply for such a European Certificate of Succession (“European Certificate of Inheritance”). It is valid in all member states of the European Union, except in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark.
However, there is a restriction for the “European Certificate of Succession”! The applicant receives only a certified copy of the certificate of inheritance from the probate court, not the original. This copy is only valid for six months from the date of issue. If you have any questions regarding the European Certificate of Inheritance, please contact our notary’s office in Cologne!
What does a certificate of inheritance cost?
Fees are incurred when applying for a certificate of inheritance at the probate court. These costs depend on the value of the estate. In short: the higher the inherited assets, the more the certificate of inheritance costs. Existing debts are deducted from the value of the inheritance. The costs increase quickly if, for example, land and real estate are part of the inheritance. To indicate the value of the property or land, you should know the market value (market value). The costs of the certificate of inheritance are borne by the person who made the application. A table of fees in the Court and Notary Costs Act can give you an estimate of the costs involved.
Notary’s office Cologne – experts for inheritance law
Notaries are legally bound to secrecy, which makes us a trustworthy partner in all inheritance matters. Benefit from our professional advice in Cologne. We are also happy to make appointments outside our office if you wish.