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Why Probate Research?


German Law protects your inheritance rights.
» Grundgesetz Art. 14, and for further detail » Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch (BGB) im fünften Abschnitt.

Usually the heirs of a deceased person are known: there is a last will and testament, or the closest relatives know who belongs to their family and has a legal right to inherit. In all these cases, our services are not required; the known heirs can apply for a certificate of inheritance and take care of the distribution of the inheritance themselves. “Distribution of the inheritance” need not imply any loud disagreements: the entire estate of a deceased person is simply “distributed,” so that each heir receives his or her share.

But there are cases in which, for example, the existing last will and testament no longer applies – all the named heirs are already deceased. Or there is no last will and testament, and no children or grandchildren either, and other family members of the deceased person are not even known.

Then the probate court of jurisdiction (that is the jurisdiction where the deceased person last resided) is approached first: it is responsible for securing the estate, and is supposed to locate the legal heirs. If necessary – always in those cases where assets requiring personal attention are in question – the probate court will appoint an estate administrator. The responsibilities of the estate administrator may include closing the apartment, or determining what assets and whether any debts exist. Also, searching for relatives who may come into question as legal heirs is one of the responsibilities of the estate administrator.

But this search can be a very time-consuming proposition and require time and money far in excess of what a typical law-office or professional estate administrator can dedicate to it. Before long it is determined that there are no heirs and that therefore the government should inherit the estate.

That’s the point where we intervene and begin a more thorough search. We have the resources needed to undertake this intensive research, using professional databases, archives, specialized genealogical resources, etc. etc. etc. What’s more... we really enjoy it! Quite often this research enables us to trace relatives – even if they are only related through a great-grandparent of the decedent. You can profit if: you are heir to the estates of relatives whom you didn’t even know about.