Everyone wants a piece of the cake. When it comes to inheritance, bereaved families sometimes clash. What you need to know to avoid inheritance disputes and assert your claim.

The enormous increase in the value of real estate often leads to inheritance disputes between the bereaved. If you want to avoid this, you should draw up a will early on. But it is not uncommon for those entitled to inherit to be ignored. Anyone who nevertheless has a claim to part of the deceased’s assets, how high the compulsory portion is and who forfeits their right to inheritance. FOCUS explained online.

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Anyone who is concerned that they will have to forego part of the deceased’s assets because they were not included in the will can rest easy. In Germany, the so-called inheritance guarantee applies. It is anchored in German inheritance law, which is laid down in Article 14 of the Basic Law. The guarantee of inheritance guarantees that assets can be transferred privately after death and do not fall to the state.

When it comes to inheritance, there is a so-called “compulsory portion” that children are entitled to even if they are not married or have been adopted. But inheritance also goes “up”. If there are no children, the “compulsory portion” can also go to the parents of the deceased. According to the German Civil Code (BGB, paragraph 2303), spouses have a right to the “compulsory portion” as long as the marriage was valid until the death of the partner.

The compulsory portion of the inheritance is calculated according to paragraphs 1924 to 1936 BGB. This includes half of the statutory entitlement to the inheritance. This means that it must be checked whether the inheritor was married or and how high the number of those entitled to a compulsory portion is. The matrimonial property regime of a marital partnership is also included. The amount of the compulsory portion depends on the amount of the estate on the one hand and the number of heirs on the other.

An example: you have two children as the only heirs and your estate amounts to 200,000 euros. In a will, you bequeath 180,000 euros to your son and 20,000 euros to your daughter. According to inheritance law, however, your daughter’s compulsory portion is 50 percent of your statutory inheritance. That would be 50 percent of 100,000 euros. That’s 50,000 euros. Your daughter could claim the remaining 30,000 euros in addition to the 20,000 euros provided for in your will.

Another example: You bequeath three-quarters of your assets to the amount of 2 million euros to your wife or husband (community of gains). You will bequeath the remaining quarter to one of your two children. The child to whom you do not inherit anything can now claim his compulsory portion. This compulsory portion is calculated according to the legal succession, i.e. as if there were no will. That would then mean that your wife or husband would receive half of the statutory inheritance and your children would each receive a quarter. So the spouse would get 1 million euros, the children would each get half a million euros. The child who was previously not included in the inheritance would be entitled to a compulsory share of 250,000 euros. Spouse and child would then each have to hand over 125,000 euros, i.e. half of 250,000 euros, from their inheritance.

Prison sentences from one year or crimes committed against the parents make one unworthy of inheritance. In these extreme cases, you have forfeited your right to an inheritance, including the right to your compulsory portion. According to the law, this means specifically:

Unworthy of inheritance is:

For example, the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart ruled in a specific case (decision of January 24, 2019, Az.: 19 U 80/18) that the theft of cash justifies the confiscation of the compulsory portion due to a serious intentional offence.

In 1992, a grandson stole the equivalent of around 3,000 euros from his grandmother. For the act, he was sentenced to a fine of 100 daily rates of around 25 euros. With the help of an inheritance contract, the woman deprived her grandson of his compulsory portion. When she died in 2014, he still claimed his compulsory portion. The Stuttgart Higher Regional Court disagreed.