Wills, succession in companies, protection of the family’s assets, structured transfer of the family’s assets to the next generation.

Sometimes the intestate succession provided for by law may not quite meet the testators intentions. Usually parents may want to pass on to their children all of their assets once both of them are deceased. As long as one of them is still alive, however, the spouses are more concerned about securing the surviving spouses support during his/her remaining lifetime. Careful consideration should be given to the extent to which the surviving spouse should be able to dispose freely of its own assets and the assets inherited from the spouse already deceased and to what extend such freedom to dispose should be restricted in order to protect the family assets from malevolent third parties (on whom the surviving spouse may feel dependent) getting access to such assets.

Matters become more complex if shareholdings in companies are part of the assets to be passed on.

Our world becomes more international by the day, and hereditary law as well is affected. In some cases people acquire assets, in particular real property, abroad. Couples have different nationalities, or have been living in Germany for quite a long time and have made Germany their home, yet they are not German citizens, or they are citizens of several countries. In all such cases attention must be paid to the law applicable to the deceased’s estate, and in which countries the deceased had real property, as this may have an influence on the law applicable to the succession to the respective assets. Some options which may permissible under German law, may not be permissible under the respective foreign countries’ laws.