Inheritance and Family


Differences between English and German Inheritance Law

There are significant differences in the area of Probate between Germany and England & Wales. This can, in particular, cause difficulties to our German speaking clients when dealing with an inheritance matter.


The requirements as to form and validity of a will are different in the United Kingdom from the ones in Germany. In Germany a testament will be held as valid if the signature of the testator has been witnessed by one witness, in England & Wales a will is only valid if it was witnessed by two witnesses.


Also the intestacy rules in England & Wales differ from the ones in Germany. Furthermore, the concept of “domicile” is not known to the German legal system, as it is in England & Wales. Of course, there are also different inheritance tax allowances, and finally, in England & Wales it is not the heir who inherits directly. The estate inherits and before any inheritance is being distributed to the beneficial heirs, an executor must be appointed and the administrator must obtain the grant of probate so that he can administer the estate.
We are happy to advise you on these matters.



Peculiarities regarding inheritance law

There are still difficulties involved with inheritance in cross-border cases. It should be remembered that inheritance of immovable property is sometimes still subject to different legal systems, i.e. the law of the country where the immovable property is located will be applied. Furthermore, it is important that a draft will fulfills all formal requirements. In England two witnesses must be appointed who confirm they have seen the signature being given. Even a will made out before a notary is not sufficient for formal requirements in England.



Reclaim your taxation of inheritance in Spain

The European Court of Justice ruled on 3th of September 2014 against Spain in a case that gives non-residents the possibility to reclaim the tax they paid.  While Spain's regional governments (comunidades) reduced or even eliminated the inheritance tax rate for those who lived in Spain, they collected the tax without any reduction in the case of people living mostly outside Spain in other European countries like England.

This is a very serious discrimination. Now we are able to reclaim the tax paid in the last 4 years for all the European non-residents and even for the cases before it would be possible to reclaim the amounts directly from the Spanish government.

Contact our office for more information. We will claim your rights together with our cooperation partner Schomerus in Spain.