Certificate of inheritance ('Erbschein') and certificate of executorship ('Testaments-vollstreckerzeugnis')
The German equivalent of a Grant of Probate is a certificate of inheritance or of executorship issued by a German court. In many inheritance cases it is required in order to access estate situated in Germany.
Part of the application is a declaration in lieu of an oath which has to be notarised by a court or notary (‘Notar’) in Germany.
Abroad, the declaration in lieu of an oath can be notarised by an authorised consular officer at a German Consulate General or Embassy.
The German Embassy in Dublin offers you a questionnaire for inheritance matters (please see link below) which is the basis for the preparation of your application for a certificate of inheritance. Please complete the questionnaire as thoroughly as possible and send it back to the Embassy. In addition to the questionnaire you should also submit copies of available certificates relating to the line of succession including birth, death and marriage certificates, last wills, grant of probate, etc.
If the decedent left a will, the Embassy requires information on whether the will has been probated or not. Please be prepared to submit the original will to the German probate court in case it has not been probated in Ireland.
Based on your questionnaire the Embassy will draft an application for a certificate of inheritance and will then contact you in order to arrange an appointment for the notarisation. A fee is charged for the notarisation; please ask for the amount when making your appointment. The fee is based on the value of the estate. The fee can be paid cash or by credit card (Master-/ Visa card).
Due to legal requirements, the text of the application will be put forward in German only. If the applicant is not in sufficient command of German, the consular officer will verbally translate the full contents of the application to English. However, you can arrange a translator for assistance during the appointment at your costs.
Due to the large number of applications received, it may take 5-6 months until the draft of the application is ready for notarisation. Applications are being processed in chronological order. The Embassy regrets any inconvenience that this might cause. The Embassy will contact you as soon as possible to arrange an appointment for notarisation. In the meantime we kindly ask you to refrain from individual enquiries regarding the application status.
After notarisation, you will need to send the application to the competent German probate court together with certified true copies of the required personal documents. Please keep in mind that the German court may request translations of any foreign document even though translations of English documents are not required for notarisation at the Embassy. A court fee will be charged for the issuance of the certificate of inheritance/executorship.
Please note that the Embassy can only draft and notarise the application for you. You or your representative will need to submit it to the German probate court and you will also need to handle any follow-up correspondence. The probate court’s correspondence is usually in German only. The Embassy will not be able to offer you individual legal advice or translation services and cannot act on your behalf in the court proceedings. You would need to refer to a member of the legal profession and/or a translator for assistance in this regard.
In case of any further questions please do not hesitate to contact the Embassy in writing or by email.
Please note: All information in this text is based on the knowledge and experience of the diplomatic mission at the time of writing. No guarantee can be given for completeness and correctness.
Renouncing an inheritance in Germany
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 being informed 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 Embassy or by our Honorary Consul. After certification of your signature you will have to send the renouncement form to the German court. A declaration of renouncement in the prescribed form only becomes valid once it is received by the competent German probate court.
It is not possible to renounce under any conditions or to renounce only for parts of the estate.
Renouncement for minors
In case a parent renounces, usually the right of inheritance would pass on to his/her children. In these cases, the right of inheritance has to be renounced for the children as well. The renouncement can be declared by a minor’s legal representative only. In case both parents hold parental responsibility, both will also have to sign the renouncement form.
In some cases, a renouncement for minors has to be confirmed by the competent German family court before it can become valid. The family court’s approval has to be submitted to the competent probate court within the above mentioned deadline. The family court’s approval is not necessary, if the minor becomes an heir because the parent who legally represents the minor has renounced the inheritance.
A draft renouncement declaration is available for download below.
Attention! The draft declaration is a template only; it must be amended/ changed by the person renouncing according to the individual case as necessary. Please note that the draft is provided as a non-binding service. The Embassy is not accepting any liability. Please refer to a legal professional should you require advice concerning your individual case.
After certification of your signatures, you will have to send the form to the competent German probate court. Further correspondence regarding receipt and validity of the renouncement has to be carried out directly between yourself and the German probate court.
Please note that the Embassy cannot offer individual legal advice. Please contact the competent probate court in case of legal questions or consult a lawyer if necessary.
Please book an appointment for the signature certification.
Please bring the following documents to your appointment:
- your passport or passport card
- a form to renounce the inheritance
- proof of your address, e.g. in form of a household bill
- if applicable: birth certificates of your children and/or documents proofing guardianship
Please fill in the form but do not sign it yet.
If you are renouncing the inheritance on behalf of your children, please note that all guardians have to attend the appointment.
A renouncement usually involves two separate fees, one charged by the Embassy for certification, another for the probate court proceedings.
The fee at the Embassy is 20,- Euros. The probate court’s fee will depend on the value of the estate.