Taking Care of the Legal Aspects –
Wills & Other Inheritance Documents

A funeral plan is not the only way to prepare for the future. There are a number of other decisions you can make in advance as well:

Last will and testament

If you have particular ideas of how you would like to bequeath your estate, it’s hugely important that you make a will. Otherwise your property will be distributed according to the law. First in line for your estate will be your spouse and your immediate relatives, including your own children and grandchildren. These are followed by other relatives, such as parents, siblings, nieces and nephews.

However, this arrangement may not necessarily meet your needs as you may be intending to bequeath some of your estate to a different trusted individual or be making alternative plans for reasons of inheritance tax, for instance. If so, you will need to write a will or contract of inheritance – in which you can even include details of what you would like done with individual items of your estate.

Your last will and testament should be hand-written and signed by you. As the signatory, your name should be clearly stated, along with the date and place the document was signed. Having a will drawn up by a solicitor costs money but, unlike your own hand-written will, it can ensure clarity.


The details provided here on inheritance law and wills are for information only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions on the legal situation, we recommend you seek professional assistance. Your hand-written will only guarantee legal security if you have taken legal advice or had it certified by a solicitor.

For more detailed information on inheritance law and wills, see the booklet published by the German Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer protection:

Broschure Erbrecht & Testament – BMJV

Living wills

A living will sets out your personal healthcare wishes, should you ever become incapacitated. It is a way for you to determine yourself how your case will be handled. It would be particularly relevant if you were ever on life support, for instance. Without one, it would be up to medical professionals and family members to decide whether to continue or cease it. Expressing your wishes clearly in a living will makes things easier for everyone involved.

For more detailed information on living wills, check the website of the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection:

Broschüre Patientenverfügung – BMJV

Powers of attorney

As well as drawing up a living will, you can make further provision for your future by issuing a healthcare power of attorney. This allows you to designate someone as your representative to deal with authorities and take care of your affairs on your behalf. This can make it much easier to organise care, for example.

There are also other powers of attorney that might be worth considering, for instance to take care of your banking needs.

The aforementioned booklet offers good advice on these as well.

Organ donor’s card

An organ donor’s card allows you to express your wishes regarding organ donation. It details whether you would prefer to donate or keep your tissues and organs after you have died. We strongly recommend documenting your wishes with a card of this kind.

Organ donation can be the only hope for a seriously ill person, so if you decide to donate, you could save a life.

For more detailed information, visit the website of the German Federal Ministry of Health:

Organspende – BMG

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