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. In the United Kingdom the notarisation can only be carried out at the Embassy in London.

The German Missions in the UK offer 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 London. 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 the UK.

Based on your questionnaire the Embassy will draft an application for a certificate of inheritance and will then contact you in order to agree on 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. Visa and Mastercard are accepted, but no debit cards. If paid by credit card, the fee will be debited in EUR. Foreign transaction charges of your bank may apply.

As German is the official court language in Germany, 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. If you would like to obtain a full written translation of the application, you will be responsible for all costs incurred by a translation.

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 German Foreign Missions regret 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 London in writing or by email. Please see the questionnaire for addresses.

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