For EU citizens who had their last regular residence in Germany, the legal succession follows German law. According to German law, the deceased’s estate must be inherited by their descendants, i.e. their children and then their grandchildren and, if applicable, their spouse. If there are no children, the parents inherit either in addition to the spouse or, if there is no spouse, alone. If there are no parents, siblings or more distant relatives inherit.
If the deceased is a foreigner, the deceased had their last place of residence abroad or there are assets abroad, foreign law must be taken into account for the succession.
A will allows the testator to diverge from the legal succession or the statutory shares of the inheritance. Perhaps you would like to exclude a beneficiary altogether or specify a different share of the inheritance. Perhaps you would also like to leave individual items to friends or a partner who does not have a statutory right to inherit. Perhaps you would like to leave your estate to a charity rather than a family that is only distantly related to you.
The statutory right to inherit frequently results in several people inheriting together. They then have to share the estate. If the coheirs do not get along, this can lead to serious disputes about the distribution of the inheritance. If the entire estate does not consist of items that are divisible in their nature such as money or shares, as is generally the case, a dispute between the coheirs means that everything else has to be sold so that the proceeds can be distributed. The testator can often avoid these disputes by making a sensible will.
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