DE | EN | RU (0)69 76 75 77 80Mon. - Fri. from 8am to 8pm, Sat. from 8am to 5pm

Private Handwritten Will in Germany

May 10, 24 • Inheritance LawNo Comments

Essential considerations when creating a handwritten will

Private Handwritten Will in Germany

The issue of what should transpire with one’s assets after one’s demise is one that eventually concerns many individuals. The larger the assets and the more offspring there are, the more challenging decisions become. The urge to clarify the succession of assets often arises due to advancing age, illness, or death within the immediate family.

Individuals frequently draft a will independently. Although this can conserve time and money, there are several rules to be followed when creating a handwritten will that are vital for the will’s effectiveness and subsequent execution.

Contents of a will

In Germany, testamentary freedom is generally applicable. The testator has extensive freedom to decide who they wish to bequeath their assets to and under what terms. They are free to regulate this in their will, although they should consider the tax implications of this.

The testator should always opt for wording that is specific, clear, and unambiguous. Notably, it should be noted that a clear designation of the respective asset is necessary for the execution of the will. This is the only way to ensure that the testator’s final wishes are fully implemented.

A clear identification of the object can be achieved in various ways. In the case of real estate, for example, the district, parcel, and parcel number can be provided. In the case of deposits, the name of the bank and the deposit number are beneficial. The individuals who are to receive the benefits must also be named precisely enough to enable identification.

If the will’s content is unclear, the law’s interpretation rules may apply, and in case of uncertainty, even the statutory succession. This could mean that the actual execution of the will does not align with the testator’s wishes.

Personal drafting of the will

For a handwritten will, it is essential that it is written completely by hand and personally. In the era of computers, e-mails, and chats, this may seem archaic, but it is crucial. Even if you haven’t used a pen in years and written an extensive letter by hand, this is precisely what you need to do if you want to write your own will. A will that has been printed out by a machine or prepared by a third party is invalid, even if it is signed by the testator himself. It will then simply not be recognized.

The will must be signed, preferably with the first name and surname. The signature signifies the conclusion of the will, which is why it must be at the bottom. The signature’s identification function also allows conclusions to be drawn about the person making the will. In case of doubt, additions below the signature are invalid and will not be considered when the will is processed. If subsequent additions are made, they should be signed again as a precaution.

In the case of wills with multiple pages, it can also be beneficial to number the pages. This makes it easy to verify the will’s completeness at a later date.

Additionally, the place and date of the will’s execution should be recorded. This makes it possible to determine at any time whether the will is still current or whether a newer will exists and the old one may no longer be valid.

Storage of the handwritten will

The will can be kept privately, for example at home in a safe. It is important to ensure that it can be found in the event of death. It is therefore advisable to inform trusted individuals of its location. The disadvantage of private storage is the risk of loss and destruction, forgery, or removal by third parties.

Another option is to deposit the will with the local court in Germany. In the event of death, the will is then automatically submitted to the probate court for probate. The will is protected from unauthorized access by third parties and is not exposed to the risk of loss. The will can be removed from safekeeping at any time without losing its validity.

Conversely, it’s not recommended to keep the will in a location only accessible to the testator, like a safe deposit box. In the event of death, this could cause complications in finding the will, potentially delaying or obstructing the execution of the last will and testament.

Our experienced inheritance lawyers are ready to offer you extensive advice on creating a legally compliant will.

Read more
Why Making a Will Is Good

Johanna Rengel

Johanna Rengel supports our clients at the Frankfurt/Main office in the area of assets | foundations | succession. She primarily advises wealthy private individuals on succession and asset planning in civil law and tax matters.

>> show profile

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

WINHELLER Blog via Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates on German business law by e-mail. (Mandatory fields are marked with *)

German Business Law News (4 times a year)
I would like to subscribe to the selected newsletter and for that purpose give my consent to WINHELLER to process my above mentioned data. I have read the "Information for Data Processing in the Newsletter Subscription". I understand that I can revoke my consent at any time with effect for the future by clicking the unsubscribe button within the newsletter. *