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South Africans in Germany

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Wills and Testaments

The intention of this page is to serve as a reminder to make sure your paperwork is in order. 
It is important to know what laws will apply to you and your heirs or estate when you are deceased and you were a South African citizen with permanent residence in Germany.
Do you need a will/testament in Germany, or will your South African will/testament suffice?
Since we are not legal professionals we cannot answer these questions for you. The best advice we can give you is to speak to a qualified lawyer or professional.

 Possible considerations:

  • Is your South African will and testament valid in Germany?
  • Is your living will valid in Germany?
  • What will happen to your assets and debt in South Africa
  • What will happen to your assets, pension, bank accounts, and debt in Germany
  • Your funeral arrangements
  • Children/heirs living in South Africa
  • Spouse continuing to stay in Germany or moving back to South Africa
  • How does the law differ between SA and Germany for example Pflichtteil (§2303 BGB)

German law

Sections 1924 et seq. of the German Civil Code (BGB) contain precise provisions on how the estate of a deceased person should be distributed among the surviving dependents if the person has not provided for an arbitrary succession by means of a will or contract of inheritance.
 A distinction is made between two groups of people – relatives and spouses or life partners. They are subject to the provisions of relative inheritance law and spouse inheritance law.
Inheritance law provides for a division of relatives into groups. For more information in German, visit The Deutsches Erbezentrum

What is a Berliner Testament

According to The Deutsches Erbezentrum – “The Berliner Testament is a joint will that married couples and registered civil partners can draw up. Unmarried couples, on the other hand, do not have this option. The special feature of this spouse’s will is that the spouses choose each other as sole heirs – and their children are thus initially disinherited.
The succession laid down in the Berlin Testament differs from the statutory succession, which provides for a share of the inheritance for the common descendants and thus leads to the formation of a community of heirs with the surviving parent.
The amount of the inheritance per child according to the statutory succession depends on the number of siblings and the marital property regime of the parents. As a rule, the marital property regime applies, in which the inheritance is divided equally between the partner and the children. For example, if a spouse leaves behind a wife and two daughters, they each inherit a quarter and their mother half of the inheritance.

Resources on the web

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