If the liabilities of the decedent exceed the assets, it may be advisable to disclaim the inheritance. The heir under German law (most comparable with the residuary beneficiary under US law) by stepping into the decedent’s place assumes not only the assets but also the decedent’s liabilities. Please note that those legatees who are given only specific items as bequests (“Vermächtnis”) under a will do not assume the decedent’s liabilities.
Many beneficiaries feel compelled to disclaim an inheritance based on emotional reasons or mistaken assumptions about the law. Feel free to contact us for an Inital Consultation Package for a thorough analysis of your situation.
Beneficiaries who reside outside Germany have six months to decide whether to accept or disclaim in inheritance. The six months begin when they have found out about the death. Beneficiaries who reside in Germany have only six weeks to decide whether to accept or disclaim the inheritance.
Beneficiaries can accept or disclaim an inheritance by filing a form statement with the appropriate German probate court or the appropriate German consulate in the United States.
Parents who disclaim an inheritance of behalf of a minor child must both sign before a an appropriate German public official.
The fee payable to the German Consulate for disclaiming the inheritance depends on the value of the estate. It can be paid either in cash or by credit card at the time of your appointment.
We advise US clients on whether to accept or disclaim an inheritance. We also accompany them to their appointment at the German Embassy in Washington.