Testament and inheritance contract
Have you ever thought about writing a testament? All men die one day. But only a small number of people take precautions for this inevitable moment by making a so-called disposition of death because of death (the generic term for wills and inheritance contracts). Without a will, the legal succession applies: the testator’s assets are distributed as the legislator sees fit, usually according to family closeness. This often results in fragmented communities of heirs with persons who are enemies of each other. If the heirs are minors, the time-consuming and costly involvement of the family court is often necessary in property matters. If both parents are deceased and the children are still minors, the family court decides on the choice of a guardian. All this can be avoided prematurely if a timely and clear regulation is drawn up on how the estate is to be distributed. Your notary public in Cologne will be happy to assist you with all questions concerning wills, succession, compulsory portion and inheritance contract.
What is written in a will?
In a will, you record which person receives which share of your estate. In addition to dividing the assets among the heirs or the disinheritance of relatives, you can also formulate your last will and testament. This includes, for example, wishes regarding custody of your children.
Write a will – by hand or in public?
When you draw up a will, you can determine yourself which heir will inherit what; it is also possible to give individual items (e.g. a sum of money) through a strong bequest. You thus regulate the estate and what happens to your assets. In general, a distinction is made between a personal will and a public or notarial will. The handwritten will must be written by hand and signed with your name. This form of will is relatively flexible. It is possible to amend the will at any time. In principle, the last will and testament written is always valid – unless you are bound by an earlier inheritance contract or a joint will. However, a notarial will is more secure, because the civil law notary formulates the will of the testator in a legally secure and effective manner and also has the will officially kept in safekeeping for the testator.
What does testator mean in relation to the will?
Write a will, you will be called the testator. The testator is always the person whose estate is to be distributed. After your death, all assets and all your rights and obligations will inevitably be transferred to the heir. Your estate is never “masterless”. The legal heir becomes your legal successor (if there is no will). If you have a large family and several children, you should avoid disputes between the heirs in advance. If you have several heirs, it is your responsibility to clarify the division of your assets in advance. With a last will and testament and a joint solution, you not only preserve your last will and testament, but also the family peace.
What problems can arise when drafting a will?
If you write your will yourself, it is essential that you pay attention to the form. Formal errors lead to the will being invalid. The form is also important in order to protect the will from falsification and to ensure that it is recognised in the event of inheritance. It is possible that the will is written in an unclear manner and thus also becomes invalid or leads to disputes. Disinherited relatives often use every loophole and ambiguity to object to the form of the will. For mostly simple formal reasons, a large number of wills can be contested. In addition, there is a risk with a hand-written will that it will be lost or not found after your death. In inheritance disputes it also happens time and again that wills of heirs are falsified; you can prevent this with a public or notarial will.
What are the duties of the civil law notary when drawing up a will?
Our civil law notaries will advise you on all questions relating to the drawing up of a will and/or inheritance contract. Numerous questions and problems can arise when drawing up a will (securing business succession; excluding unwelcome relatives; safeguarding after death, etc). We will work out the appropriate solution with you. Following the notarisation of the will, we take care of its registration in the Central Register of Wills of the Federal Chamber of Notaries. In this way we ensure that your will or inheritance contract is quickly forwarded to the competent probate court after your death – even after decades. If you have any further questions about our services in the field of inheritance law, please contact our notary’s office in Cologne.
What is the difference between an inheritance contract and a will?
In an inheritance contract, you agree a contractual arrangement with a third person. This person can be your spouse, for example. The difference to a will is that you are contractually bound to this person. The contract of inheritance cannot be revoked without further ado. Would you like to arrange a contract of inheritance? The contract of inheritance requires notarisation and can therefore only be drawn up together with a notary. Our competent notaries in Cologne will be happy to advise you and clarify all questions concerning the law of succession.
What exactly is the compulsory portion of the heirs?
Even if you disinherit children or relatives in your will, i.e. exclude them from the legal succession, they are still entitled to the so-called compulsory portion. This compulsory portion always corresponds to half of the legal inheritance share. In special circumstances, such as serious crimes, the law of succession allows the withdrawal of the compulsory portion.
Our notaries will support you when it comes to the legal compulsory portion in connection with succession planning. Here, the notary’s office will check with you whether unilateral regulations on the reduction of the compulsory portion are in conformity with the law and expedient (e.g. the so-called compulsory portion penalty clause or also the contribution of assets to a GbR) or whether amicable solutions cannot be found with the person entitled to the compulsory portion (e.g. compulsory portion waiver against (deferred) compensation).
What does legal succession mean?
Who is your heir? If you do not draw up a will, have agreed a contract of inheritance or your own will is invalid, the legal succession comes into effect. According to the law, there is always an heir for your assets, also called a legal successor. By law, your relatives are put in an order in which they take over as heirs. Your descendants (children, grandchildren) are the first in the legal succession. If you have no children, your parents and their children (your siblings, nephews and nieces) become heirs. If your parents have already died and you have no brothers or sisters, your grandparents and their descendants (your uncles and aunts, cousins and cousins) will inherit your estate.
Who else can inherit the assets?
Spouses usually receive half of the inheritance along with the children. Unmarried partners must be named in the will according to the law of succession so that you receive a share of your assets. Minor adopted children belong to the heirs of the first order and are equal to natural children in the succession. If you wish to distribute your inheritance in a different way than the law requires, you must draw up a will. With a will, you can distribute the estate among your heirs as you wish.
Apply for a certificate of inheritance
If you need a judicial proof of your right to inherit, we can also help you to apply 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 accuracy of the certificate of inheritance then issued.
Regulating wills and inheritance – Your notary in Cologne
You would like to regulate everything around the subject of wills, inheritance and succession? Then you are welcome to contact our notaries in Cologne. We are your confidential partner in the field of inheritance law. Together we will find a solution for your inheritance and draft a will that reflects all your wishes. As notaries, we naturally work carefully and reliably and are bound by law to secrecy in all matters.