Inheritance law + family law
We recommend to all our clients to arrange what will happen to their estates in good time and to draw up a will, a joint will or a contract of inheritance. We assist with preparation and drafting. The content of these testamentary dispositions or contracts will depend on the personal and family situation.
The aim of regulating inheritance is above all to implement the client’s ideas as to which person or persons should enter into the client’s legal position after his or her death, and to what extent. One of the most important reasons for timely estate planning is to avoid the risk of disputes among potential heirs after the death of the decedent; well-considered and detailed arrangements can prevent unnecessary acrimony.
We also advise the appointment of an executor in certain cases. We also regularly act as executors and we support executors in the performance of their duties.
Transfers in anticipation of succession
In many cases, a person’s assets (and especially real estate and business assets), have appreciated significantly over the years,
while the provisions of the Inheritance and Gift Tax Act (ErbStG), in particular the tax rates and allowances, have remained unchanged for decades. As a result, in Munich and southern Germany, surviving spouses or children could be forced to pay estate tax even on the small house or condo they live in.
We assist in the arranging transfers in anticipation of succession (lifetime gifts, e.g. subject to the reservation of usufruct) and find arrangements that are adapted and practicable for the individual case.
Distribution of the estate
We support and advise our clients in the settlement of the estate after death, also in contentious settlement processes, between heirs, co-heirs and beneficiaries of the compulsory portion or the supplementary compulsory portion.
In accordance with our firm’s philosophy, our first objective is to seek amicable and fair settlements. If such an agreement cannot be found, disputes have to be settled with the help of the court, in which we are happy to provide support.
We support our clients during probate proceedings at the competent local probate courts, for example to obtain an inheritance certificate. We assist you in proceedings to clarify the order of succession, especially in the case of incomplete, interpretable or misleading testamentary dispositions. Our practice also includes the curatorship or administration of estates.
Inheritance and gift tax
Any acquisition by reason of death is subject to inheritance and gift tax.
The provisions of the law have not been adapted to changed circumstances for decades. There is therefore an increasingly greater need for advice and proactivity, both in structuring transfers in anticipation of succession and in settling affairs after death. We can only recommend to anyone affected to seek legal advice as soon as possible after a death occurs – especially in view of the short period during which an heir can disclaim a potentially burdensome inheritance.
We advise our clients on possible arrangements to preserve their assets or the assets of their deceased relatives for their heirs, usually the surviving spouse, children and grandchildren, and assist in any tax-related disputes.
Marriage contracts are generally not considered essential for the average person.
However, entrepreneurs, freelancers and persons who have received or could receive so-called “privileged assets” (e.g. by way of gift, inheritance, transfer in anticipation of succession) should inform themselves at the time of the conclusion of their marriage, but in any event in good time before a potential “crisis” in the marriage, about the possibilities of arranging their legal relationships through a marriage contract. We are well versed in the complex case law of the Federal Court of Justice on the validity and on the judicial review of the content of marriage contracts.
We help our clients prepare and draft effective and valid marriage contracts. In the event of a breakdown of the marriage, we review existing marriage contracts, which are often ineffective or in need of amendment, and to correct them – if necessary, by contesting them.
Divorces and ancillary matters
Divorce law and the law governing the so-called “ancillary matters” (equalisation of pension rights, settlement of property between the spouses, custody and paternity, etc.) have always been the core of family law. We have been advising and representing our clients in these matters, which are usually of existential importance for them, for decades.
The aim of our work is – again in line with our firm’s philosophy – to find amicable, time and cost-saving solutions that all parties can live with. However, we are also prepared to go to court if that becomes necessary.
A particular focus of our work in family matters is assisting with the settlement of the property between the spouses. The term “property settlement” refers to arrangements made between spouses early on, before a potential “crisis” in the marriage, but especially in cases where the marriage has actually already broken down irretrievably.
We advise and support our clients in this regard both outside of court and in court proceedings.