Inheritance law These 5 misconceptions persist

Inheritance law These 5 misconceptions persist

Inheritance law: these 5 misconceptions persist

Still there are with the topic bequeathing many myths and uncertainties.

The death of a dear fellow human being is one of the most drastic experiences that everyone has to go through once in their life. The feelings of grief and loss determine the first time after death, but soon there can be a fierce dispute among the survivors, if the inheritance was not settled correctly. Such a dispute can divide a family for many years, if not forever.

Inheritance law

Of course, no one likes to deal with his own demise, but everyone is therefore well advised to settle his estate during his lifetime, especially when it comes to larger assets. On the one hand, this ensures that one’s own wishes are carried out concretely in the event of an eventuality, and on the other hand, it avoids internal family disputes, which are often pre-programmed in the absence of a will.

However, on the subject of inheritance law, many errors and myths still persist. Many people still believe that it is possible to disinherit an unloved close relative or that the surviving spouse automatically inherits the entire estate. Some misconceptions are particularly prevalent.

5 inheritance law errors

  1. Spouse automatically inherits everything
    This misconception has persisted for decades. Many actually believe that first the spouse inherits everything and only after his or her death, the surviving children become heirs. This is absolutely wrong!
    According to inheritance law, children are immediately entitled to inheritance. If there is no will, they automatically receive half of the estate. Only the other 50 percent goes to the surviving spouse. This has already led for some – also negative – surprise.
    If you want to prevent this, you should draw up a so-called Berlin will and declare the other spouse to be the sole heir. Disadvantage here: Such a will can only be changed jointly. After the death of a spouse this is no longer possible.
  2. One can disinherit children
    An equally ineradicable error as under point 1. Even if one excludes a child by last will as an heir, the child has nevertheless according to law a requirement on the obligation part of the inheritance. This share is practically impossible to take away from the child.
  3. You can make relatives rich
    Of course, one can, for example, award several million to the nephew. However, not only the heir but also the tax office is happy about such donations*. Only spouse & Registered partners (up to 500.000 €), children (up to 400.000 €) and grandchildren (up to 200.000 €) are entitled to larger allowances on which they do not have to pay inheritance tax. In addition, there are other allowances for household effects.
    However, relatives other than those mentioned only have an allowance of a measly 20.000 €. This applies to money plus inherited objects. Anything above and beyond this must be taxed. To avoid this, one should give away money in smaller tranches during one’s lifetime.
  4. One specifically quantifies individual items per heir and thus avoids disputes
    This is a real beginner’s mistake. It is not a bad idea to draw up a list of the items to be inherited by each person. However, one should not forget the most important thing in a will, and that is the exact naming of the heirs. That is however not automatically those, which are considered in the will with articles.
    Therefore, the naming of the heirs belongs at the beginning of the will or the will of the deceased. the community of heirs. Only then can the estate be distributed. However, one must adhere again to the legal guidelines, because the inheritance law knows only quotas as inheritance share. In case of doubt, it must be clarified what the financial value of an inherited object is and whether a financial settlement between heirs is necessary to ensure that the legal share of the inheritance is maintained.
  5. Who does not want to have an inheritance, simply does not need to do anything
    Inactivity is never good, so also in inheritance law. To disclaim an inheritance, you have to go to the probate court or a notary public within 6 weeks and declare your disclaimer. This period starts from the moment when the heir learns about the death and it is clear that he has become the heir himself.
    If one lets this period pass idly, then the legal succession comes into force and one gets automatically its portion awarded. However, under certain circumstances, this can also be debts for which you then have to pay up.


As these points show, there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to inheritance law. The need for clarification is immense. No one should underestimate this, neither the testator nor the heir. Informing* and legal advice can therefore only be of benefit in any case. And this should not be put off in any case.

About Author