Inheritance claims will expire by limitations through the inheritance reform at the end of the year
The inheritance reform from 2010 has changed the limitation rules and could show its effects for the first time this year.
GRP Rainer Lawyers Tax Advisors, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt www.grprainer.com inform: On 01.01.2010 the inheritance - and limitations law reform became effective. Because of this reform, the 30 year period of limitations according to §197 para. 1 nr. 2 of the German Civil Code (BGB) is no longer applicable. Since 01.01.2010 a large portion of inheritance claims fall into the three year limitation period in line with the §195 of the Civil Code. In the case of bequests, the new shortened limitations period is particularly adhered. This could lead to the outcome that a large part of the inheritance claims expire by 31.12.2012.
A large number of older inheritance cases will expire on the 31.12.2012. So the changes from the reform are not only valid for inheritance cases from 01.01.2010 onward, but can be applied as transitional rules for the previous years. The inheritor may not count on the claims to expire so early, thus care has to be taken in regards to older claims.
The new version of the Civil Code §197 para. 1 nr. 1 enumerates which claims are spared by the new timeframes. For some, the previous 30 year limitation period stays valid. A decision has to be made on a case-by-case basis whether a particular claim falls under the outlined exceptions. When in doubt it is advisable to check the claims with a lawyer before the end of the year. This way you can make sure that no disadvantages come to you due to the law change.
If a claim has fallen under the statute and the opposing side appeals to this fact, then it can no longer be asserted. In the assertion of inheritance claims, it is important to take note of the new statute of limitations, because it regularly provides shorter time frames for suitable claims. Should there be doubts in regards to the limitations of a claim, get legal advice from an expert in the matter to prevent stepping into a disadvantageous position.
There has also been change in the legal share claims in the course of the reform: Since the renewal, the starting time is pushed to the end of the respective year. This means that the three-year limitations period no longer starts when the beneficiary receives the knowledge of the testator's death and the contents of the testament.
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