Will & Testament - and the Berliner Testament

39 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

First of all, hello! I am a UK citizen who recently celebrated his 20 years of living in Berlin. It's times like that the mind starts turning to boring stuff like sorting our wills, etc.

 

I am not married and do not intend to marry, but I have been living with my male partner for 7 years and wish to ensure he is taken care of should the worst happen.

 

The notar costs in Germany for putting together a will are horrendous, so before I went down that path I wanted to check what my options were in terms of a Berliner Testament. I have been reading up as much as I can on Berliner Testaments, but everywhere I look it talks about married couples.

 

Can someone please advise on the best course of action? I am as noted, a Brit, but my partner is German and we both live and work in Germany. The complications do come from the fact that we are a same sex couple and not married (or are in a "civil partnership").

 

Many thanks for any guidance in advance!

 

J

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I have been reading up as much as I can on Berliner Testaments, but everywhere I look it talks about married couples.

 

The Berliner Testament is for married couples who have kids.

 

You can of course just leave everything to your bf (as long as you don't have kids of your own) with a handwritten, dated, mentioning the city you wrote it in (e.g. geschrieben in Berlin am 4. März 2013) and signed last will, see section 2247 of the German Civil Code, but if you aren't married he will then be hit with serious inheritance tax.

 



  • If you were married (= civil partnership), he would get the first 500,000€ tax free.
  • If you do not marry, he will only get the first 20,000€ tax free,

see here for the tax tables .

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Thanks Panda, well that explains why I can only find information about married couples with kids ;) - so it looks like a visit to the Notar is pretty much unavoidable if I want to ensure it is done properly? Are there any options for a UK will, since I am technically a UK citizen?

 

The handwritten will - is there a template available for this do you know? Not sure if my written German is good enough to make sure I cover all bases as it were..

 

Also, thanks for the inheritance tax chart - might be worth asking him again if he wants me to make an honest man of him ;)

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As I said, a handwritten last will is enough.

No need for a Notar as long as your financial situation is simple.

 

You can then give that handwritten will into the keeping of the Amtsgericht, so that you can be sure it doesn't get "lost", see here.

 

Giving it into the keeping of the Amtsgericht will cost you:

 



  • 33€ for a to be inherited fortune of up to 50,000€, or
  • 108€ for a fortune of up to 250,000€, or
  • 200€ for a fortune of up to 500,000€

 

UK inheritance law seems fairly simple, see here, for people who live outside the UK it only applies to UK assets, while all other assets fall under the inheritance law of the country you live in, in your case Germany.

 

 

The handwritten will - is there a template available for this do you know? Not sure if my written German is good enough to make sure I cover all bases as it were..

 

I think you are overthinking this, the following, but handwritten & signed, would be sufficient:

 

*****************************

 

Ich, Norbert Albert Belper, geboren am 24.8.1970 in Sheffield, Großbritannien bestimme, dass Herr Hans Joachim Müller, geboren am 30.12.1969 in Hamburg, mein alleiniger Erbe sein soll.

 

Berlin, den 4. März 2013

<your signature>

Norbert Albert Belper

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You can then give that handwritten will into the keeping of the Amtsgericht, so that you can be sure it doesn't get "lost", see

 

Handwritten (UK wills don't have that restriction) - and in a foreign language - or can the will be written in the person's native language ie English? In the case of families with kids the will presumably still has to conform to German regulations (Pflichtanteil...)

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Another tip, belpernews ( and inspired by Panda´s post ). If you take out term life insurance (Risikolebensversicherung ) so your partner would get a death benefit in case of your death, you could also fall into the trap Panda mentions.

 

If you´re not married or in an " eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft " : any payout over 20,000 euros is subject to inheritance tax. So to avoid this: whoever should get the money should take out the policy in his/her name ( Antragsteller ) and insure the life of the partner (zu versichernde Person ). That way it is not a question of inheritance as such but a contractual obligation, and thus tax-free..

 

Morbid, I know! :)

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or can the will be written in the person's native language ie English?

 

Yes, as long as it is in a language that can be translated, i.e. no obscure languages please, English would be ok.

For details see the section "Das privatschriftliche Testament" in here.

 

But how difficult is it to write that one line in German?

 

Regarding the Pflichtteil for your children: please re-read the wiki on the Berliner Testament.

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Thanks Panda, this has been really helpful. So I don't have to list out what my "fortune" is, I just simply have to provide a handwritten will and get it stored at the Amtsgericht? How do they calculate how much I should pay, just on my say-so?

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So I don't have to list out what my "fortune" is, I just simply have to provide a handwritten will and get it stored at the Amtsgericht?

 

Yes.

 

 

How do they calculate how much I should pay, just on my say-so?

 

Yes.

 

From the article I linked to in post no. 4:

 

  • "Der Gerichtsmitarbeiter wird den Hinterleger deshalb danach fragen, wie viel Vermögen er oder sie in etwa besitzt bzw. vererbt."

 

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As someone who deals with wills on a daily basis just a warning. 99 % of handwritten wills that are longer than maybe a quarter page are probably problematic. If you want to make sure that everything goes according to your wishes, you either spend a few EUR and go to a notary or you really take your time and extensively read what is possible under german inheritance law and how to achieve it.

 

Example:

 

Zu meinen Erben setze ich meine Kinder zu gleichen Teilen ein. <--- good

 

Zum Erben meines Hauses setze ich meinen Sohn ein. Das Bargeld soll meine Tochter erhalten. <---- bad

 

Zu Erben setze ich meine Kinder zu gleichen Teilen ein. Ich ordne an, dass mein Sohn das Grundstück xy bekommen soll. Das restliche Vermögen soll an meine Tochter gehen. <--- good

 

The Op's case is pretty simple though (except if he has property in the uk). What PandMunich wrote is sufficient.

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... The notar costs in Germany for putting together a will are horrendous, ...

Just out of curiosity, anyone out there know the costs approx.? Any ballpark figures?

 

I have no issues with the standard German Erbrecht but I do have the one or the other request in mind the last few years that I'd like to get sorted and thought maybe getting it done via Notar would be the way to go. Any advice is deeply appreciated!

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Just out of curiosity, anyone out there know the costs approx.? Any ballpark figures?

 

I have no issues with the standard German Erbrecht but I do have the one or the other request in mind the last few years that I'd like to get sorted and thought maybe getting it done via Notar would be the way to go. Any advice is deeply appreciated!

 

Costs depend on the value of your estate.

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Just out of curiosity, anyone out there know the costs approx.? Any ballpark figures?

 

 

 

Costs depend on the value of your estate.

 

 

 

As one who has been stung by this (cost based on value)

 

Which was the main reason why my wife & I have not done a will - as soon as you have a house etc. it gets expensive.

Given that a will in UK is straight-forward (none of having to be in hand-writing) we gave up here.

 

 

I've yet to see a poor notary in Germany so I don't have any problem about this recommendation.

 

Me neither - a personal friend ia a notary here (known him 30+ years) & hes always moaning about poor business & finances being tight - as hes just about to fly out to his apartment in Florida for vacation.

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Which was the main reason why my wife & I have not done a will - as soon as you have a house etc. it gets expensive.

Given that a will in UK is straight-forward (none of having to be in hand-writing) we gave up here.

 

You either pay now, or the heir pays after the first one died. If there is real estate involved, without a notarized will, your heir/heirs will need a certificate of inheritance. Costs for that are, surprise, determined by the value of the estate.

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Thanks for this information, I had no idea about these laws and good to start thinking about it.

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You either pay now, or the heir pays after the first one died. If there is real estate involved, without a notarized will, your heir/heirs will need a certificate of inheritance. Costs for that are, surprise, determined by the value of the estate.

 

Yes, but doesn't the court charge less for an Erbschein (= certificate of inheritance) than a notary charges for writing a last will?

At the very least, the court doesn't charge 19% VAT on top of it like a notary does?

I googled a bit and came up with this cost example for the Erbschein.

 

Of course, you work there, so you can give us first-hand cost information :)

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No you can't (and you can't leave it to your dog either). Well, actually you can give a lower value if you don't mind committing fraud.

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If you´re not married or in an " eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft " : any payout over 20,000 euros is subject to inheritance tax.

Is that true even if the beneficiary is living in another country?

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