Renouncement of inheritance
According to German law an heir can declare the renouncement of succession to the competent German Probate Court within six weeks - if the heirs are outside of Germany within six months - after receiving knowledge about the inheritance.
If you cannot personally declare the renouncement at the competent German Probate Court, the certification of your signature can also be carried out by the German missions in Australia (including Honorary Consuls) . After certification of your signature you will have to send the renouncement form to the German court.
A draft renouncement declaration is available for download below.
Competent court for the acceptance of the renouncement
According to German court regulations (Sec. 343 FamFG) the probate court (“Nachlassgericht”) competent for the proceeding is the court in whose administrative district the deceased had his last residence or stay.
In case a German citizen passes away without residence in Germany, the following court is competent for the proceedings:
If a person without German nationality passed away without residence in Germany, the court in whose administrative district the assets are located is competent. In case there are assets in multiple administrative districts, the court initially approached becomes competent for all assets in Germany.
A renouncement usually involves two separate fees, one charged by the German Mission for certification, another for the probate court proceedings. The fee payable at the German Foreign Mission is the equivalent of 20 Euros in AUD according to the day’s exchange rate. Only at the German Embassy in Canberra and at the German Consulate General in Sydney can fees be paid either in cash (in Australian $, please enquire the current fee at the Embassy/Consulate) or with credit card (Visa or MasterCard - transaction will be processed in Euro). Other payment methods (e.g. with smart watch, mobile phone) not accepted.
At the Offices of the Honorary Consuls fees can only be paid in cash (in Australian $ at the current exchange rate of the German Missions).
The probate court’s fee will depend on the value of the estate.
Certificate of inheritance
The purpose of a certificate of inheritance is to legitimize the heir. The certificate of inheritance creates the assumption that its contents are correct and complete and therefore is meant to produce full faith and credit. German authorities (for instance the German land registry) as well as banks etc. require reliable proof with regard to the inheritance and the identity of the heir.
The Certificate of Inheritance is issued on application by the competent surrogate’s court (Nachlassgericht) in Germany. You can lodge your application only with the Consulate General in Sydney.
In order to prepare your application for a certificate of inheritance you have to submit a questionnaire which you are requested to fill in completely, sign it and send it back to the relevant German mission. Furthermore you have to provide documents which prove the applicant’s kinship or relationship to the deceased and establish his/her right to the inheritance. Therefore we would like to especially draw your attention to section 3 and sections 5 - 8 of the questionnaire and would kindly ask you to submit the necessary proof as completely as possible. This way you can avoid delays and speed up the processing of your application.
The following documents are normally required:
- Documents of the deceased: Death, marriage and birth certificate, last passport or certificate of naturalization; Last will (testament) as well as letter of probate (if the will was probated)
- Documents of the spouse of the deceased: birth certificate and, if applicable, death certificate (of all spouses)
- Documents of the descendants of the deceased: Birth, marriage and death certificates, if applicable (descendants include children born within marriage as well as out of wedlock, adopted and legitimized children)
- Documents of all persons mentioned in the last will: Identification papers or, if applicable, death certificate
- Documents of children of deceased descendants of the deceased: Birth, marriage and death certificates, if applicable
- Documents of parents and other relevant relatives (only if there are no living descendants): Birth, marriage and death certificates, if applicable
- Passport of the applicant
If the estate in Germany consists of real estate, the following documents have to be presented as well:
- Title of the German land registry or detailed description of the real estate
- Proof of market value of the real estate (if not known please contact the relevant German mission for further assistance)
If the estate in Germany consists of movables (money, valuables, savings, etc.), the following documents have to be presented:
- Precise description of kind and value of the movables (for instance the name of the bank, account number, last bank statement)
Please send your questionnaire and photocopies of all the relevant documents to the Consulate General in Sydney via post. We will then prepare a draft for the notarization of your application for a certificate of inheritance and contact you in due time in order to make an appointment for the notarization of your application for which you will have to appear in person. On the day of the notarization, please bring your valid passport and the originals of all the copies you provided as well as the fee for the notarization (to be determined, payable in cash in AU$ or by credit card (up to a maximum of 1,000 EUR) on a Euro-basis). Other payment methods (e.g. with smart watch, mobile phone) not accepted.
The notarization can be done either in Sydney or during the visit of a consular officer at one the other German missions in Australia.
Finally, you will have to send the notarized application together with the certified copies of the submitted documents to the competent surrogate’s court in Germany which is to issue the certificate of inheritance.