International Inheritance Law

Estate planning is particularly demanding in cases with a foreign connection. Such a foreign connection is more common than you may estimate due to the Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 in matters of succession. This regulation has been implemented in Germany and most European countries on the 17th of August 2015. Since then the applicable law is no longer depending on the nationality of the deceased but on his last habitual residence, which should not be confused with the permanent residence. For example, if the death occurred in Spain, which had been the last habitual residence of the deceased, the Spanish law of succession has to be applied to his or her entire estate no matter, if the estate is in Spain or abroad. This can only be avoided through a testamentary choice of the applicable inheritance law, e.g. the law of the testator’s country of citizenship. In this case a last will is mandatory.

But even when the above-mentioned regulation is not applicable, also special parameters like mixed marriages, a permanent address or a habitual residence abroad, composing the last will abroad or even just the cottage in the preferred holiday country etc. can have the effect that German inheritance law is not to be applied. The fully or partially applicable foreign inheritance law does not recognize typical German testation instruments, for example, the mutual wills of spouses. Additionally, often the statutory compulsory portions differ in other countries.

Frequently, it is sufficient to add a simple supplementary clause to your existing testamentary disposition (even a notarised last will may be complemented or modified with a handwritten last will) in order to realise your wishes.

If the succession has already occurred and foreign law is applicable, the specialised lawyers of HUEMMERICH legal will help you to assert your rights. Beside their own wide knowledge they also have good relationships to foreign lawyers and notaries and can connect you with them.