Does a separate English language will make sense if I live in Germany?

The quick answer is YES!  Whether you are a German national or not, a valid English language will dealing with English or South African assets will make the winding-up of your estate easier. Why is this the case? The German rules of succession are significantly different to those of England and Wales and South Africa.  Whereas in Germany the heirs inherit directly on the death of the deceased and are usually personally involved in winding up the deceased estate, in England and Wales and in South Africa the estate is managed by an executor who obtains probate (if the estate is over a minimum value) and then winds up the deceased estate and distributes the remaining assets to the heirs after liabilities have been discharged.  A valid English-language will reduces the administrative costs associated with recognition of the will in the foreign jurisdiction, reduces conflicts that could arise between heirs as to the choice of executor and further enables estate planning in regard to the distribution of assets.

Is my English/ South African will valid if I sign it in the EU?

Yes!  The will and its execution (signing) must however meet the requirements of either the EU country where you lived at that time of signing the will or, where appropriate the law of England and Wales or South Africa.

I live in Germany as a foreign or dual national. Which law applies to the distribution of my assets?

The EU Rules allow you to choose the law of your nationality to apply to the distribution of your estate, provided that the choice is expressed in a will or a separate written declaration.  This means that the German courts would recognise the law applicable to your estate as that of your chosen country of nationality.  If you haven't made this choice, and are a habitual resident of Germany, German succession law applies to your world-wide assets and your entire estate becomes subject to the “forced inheritance” rules.  These rules trump any distribution provisions stated in a will.

Can I establish a trust to get around the forced inheritance rules in Germany?

Germany is a civil law system that does not acknowledge trusts as these are used in England and Wales and South Africa.  Accordingly, trusts are not an estate planning vehicle that can be utilised to work around the forced inheritance rules in Germany.

What is the fee structure?

My fees are regulated according to German law (Bundesrechtsanwaltsgebührenordnung).  German law sets out statutory fees for litigious matters based on the value in dispute in a given case. Fee agreements can be made, § 3 a RVG, provided that these are not lower than the statutory fees, § 49 b BRAO.

Do you have other questions? Please get in touch with me for a consultation.