Estate and Probate Law
We have considerable experience in assisting North American clients in claiming estate assets, in particular bank accounts and real property, in Germany. We also consult expats living in Germany in setting up testamentary dispositions that will be valid under the laws of Germany while they are living here.
Generally, the first question to be addressed in cross-border estate matters is to what extent foreign law will be recognized in Germany and how German law will influence the interpretation of a testament made in North America.
Our legal services in German estate matters extend from applying for probate with local German courts, to corresponding and communicating with local German banks, administrative agencies, real property titles registry offices, pension offices and other state authorities, to launching or defending legal actions on behalf of the North American heirs. In doing so, we ensure that our clients understand the differences between provisions of German law governing an inheritance and principles of common law so that they can make an informed decision at each step of the process.
We believe that we have significant experience in what are cutting edge cases involving rights to estates in Germany advanced by foreign heirs. Examples of cases we have acted on in the past three years include: successfully defending a claim for compulsory shares of an estate located in Germany and the U.S.; settling claims resulting from a gift of assets in Germany to thwart creditors and heirs both in North America and in Germany; successfully partitioning interests in real property in Germany to protect the interest of an heir located in Ontario; providing a legal opinion regarding the impact of a silent partnership agreement under German corporate law on the claim of a Canadian heir for an interest in an on-going business in Germany based on a Canadian will; advising heirs located in Canada and France regarding the value of their claim against the real estate assets of an estate in Germany; advising a client in New York in connection with rights as the residual heir where a testamentary gift had failed; providing an opinion to a group of heirs in British Columbia regarding limitation issues surrounding a claim for additional assets against third parties due to a willful depletion of assets by the testator prior to his death.