Inheritance: Liability of heirs

It is not uncommon for someone to die without leaving a will or without relatives who would be known.

If the estate consists of more assets than liabilities, the probate court appoints a trustee of the estate.

It is not uncommon for someone to die without leaving a will or without relatives who would be known. If the estate consists of more assets than liabilities, the probate court appoints an estate administrator. This person secures and manages the estate and searches for relatives.

If, despite all efforts, no blood relatives can be identified, or if the heirs do not accept the inheritance, the estate falls to the state. The estate guardianship ends when an heir has been identified or there is no longer a need for care. For example, because the estate was deposited with the depositary of the district court.

The application for the establishment of an estate guardianship can be made informally.

Preconditions

  • Without the intervention of the competent authority, the preservation of the estate would be endangered.
  • The heiress is unknown.
  • It is uncertain whether the heir will accept the inheritance.
  • If the applicant is a creditor of the estate (the person who has outstanding claims against the deceased), he/she must demonstrate an interest in securing an estate. He/she must present the intention to assert a claim against the estate in court. For example, by presenting the rental agreement with the deceased.

Hints

Over-indebted estate

If someone dies and leaves an over-indebted estate, no estate care is established. It is not the task of the court to ensure debt settlement for creditors.

The state does not pay any estate liabilities and does not pay for costs incurred by creditors.

Related Links

  • § 1984 Civil Code (BGB)
  • §§ 1960 ff BGB - Securing the estate
  • The creditor of the estate submits an informal application to the probate court for the establishment of an estate guardianship.
  • The probate court examines the need for security of the estate.
  • If this is the case, the probate court establishes a guardianship of the estate. The estate care ends when the need for security ceases to exist, for example because an inheritance has been found.

Responsible for the content
Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice

Last update or date of publication
14.08.2020