Responsibility for a deceased person's debts

9 posts in this topic

Posted

I'm hoping someone has some words of enlightenment...A friend of mine died in July 2011, he was German by birth and had an outstanding German debt for unpaid university fees. This he sucessfully avoided paying as he was living in Australia and ignored demands for payment. Problem now is that I am executor of his will and his family in Germany are telling me that the 'Bafog' (whatever that is) is demanding payment from his family as they are next of kin.

I had letters from the Bundesverwaltungsamt in German and twice I emailed them explaining that I didn't speak German and could they kindly send me some information in english. This never happened and I advertised for anyone having outstanding debts to contact me. The courts advised to do this and I inquired if I should place an ad in a German newspaper as Norbert was originally form there. Apparently this was not required.

I guess my question is can they demand this from his family? Has anybody any ideas on this? His death was traumatic enough without all this being thrown into the mix...

thanx

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Posted

The heirs inherit the estate, i.e. all assets and liabilities. If the estate shows a negative balance they can refuse to accept the inheritance within a certain deadline.

That's the short version.

Since inheritance law can be complicated, especially with at least two countries' laws involved; you may need professional advice, all we can do here is to point you in the right direction.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Please have all legal advice you receive here verified by a legal professional.

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Posted

The problem is that from the german point of view he is a german citizen and german inheritance law is applicable. However, from the aussie point of view his last domicil determines the applicable law and that was probably in one of the australian states. Without a will you would have a situation where assets in germany would be dealt with by german law and assets in Australia by australian (state) law. From your post I reckon however that he left a will? What is the content of this will? Did he explicitly chose australian law? Unlike in most common law countries in germany there is for example no executor if the deceased did not explicitly determine one.

One thing to keep in mind, german bureaucracy does not really like emails and expects letters and if they have no official knowledge of his will, they will asume that german rules of intestacy apply.

edit: I just read the thread topic, did he give up his german citizenship or was he a dual citizen?

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Posted

A practical example:

I assisted US citizens whose (also American) relative had lived and died in Germany.

The German inheritance court (Erbschaftsgericht) was able to clearly specify which

country's law applied to what assets/debt in which country.

(In this case, it was about real estate in the US - US law applied, while cash in

any country is covered by German inheritance law, as the deceased had died there.)

The long and short of this is:

International treaties have defined all this - the inheritance court of the country

your friend died in *must* have this info for your specific case.

Lacking this, the German court will know, I saw them pull out the law books with

the international rules in them. The German heirs can ask that question for you.

Also, the German heirs need to know if there are any assets to speak of. Otherwise,

in the face of debt, they need to:

- talk to a lawyer

- and possibly deny the inheritance WITHIN SIX WEEKS.

Hope this helps.

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Posted

Consider contacting your nearest German Embassy or Consular Service, they may be able to give initial advice on the legal status.

BTW, here is the information in German about BaFög repayments in the case of a death.

BaFög is a student grant scheme like HECS, by the way, why isn't the family in Germany helping you with the language?

The key thing is whether your friend ever was due to start repayments or not.

If he was due to repay (and either did or didn't), the amount owed is that up to one month before the date of death and yes, any heirs that claim the German estate may be asked to pay up.

Sorry for your loss.

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Posted

From what I understand, the only issue with Germany is the repayment of the BaFög loan.

The OP should provide the heirs with a rough estimate of the assets and liabilities of the deceased, so that they can decide whether to accept the inheritance (warts and all) or refuse it. If they choose to accept it, then he can ask them to inquire into whether and how the BaFög loan can be repaid.

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Posted

Thanks for all the info...hugely appreciated and thanx for the link to information about BaFog repayments, awesome. I am having difficulties communicating with the family in Germany. Language is a real problem I speak no German and they very little english, it gets confusing, frustrating and at times almost humourous.

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Posted

Skype conference with someone bilingual?

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