Declaration of inheritance; declaration of disclaimer

The disclaimer of an inheritance is made by declaration to the local probate court.


If you learn that you have been appointed heir or co-heir on the basis of intestate succession or a disposition of property upon death (will, contract of inheritance), you must decide as soon as possible whether you wish to be the final heir. If you do not wish to accept the inheritance, you must declare the disclaimer of the inheritance within a short period of time.

The disclaimer of an inheritance can be considered in particular if it is to be feared that the estate is overindebted, because otherwise - at least initially - the heir would be liable for the estate's liabilities. After acceptance of the inheritance or expiry of the disclaimer period, you can only limit liability for estate liabilities to the estate by applying for estate administration or estate insolvency proceedings. Only if the estate does not even cover the costs of such proceedings can you refuse to meet estate liabilities to the extent that the estate is insufficient. In this case, however, you must surrender the estate to the creditors.


The disclaimer must be declared to the competent probate court. The probate court in whose district the decedent last had his or her habitual residence and the probate court in whose district the disclaimant has his or her habitual residence are both responsible for receiving and recording the disclaimer. The latter then passes the declaration on to the probate court responsible for the entire probate proceedings.

Strict formal requirements apply to the declaration of disclaimer. The declaration must be made either on the record of the probate court or in publicly certified form. A simple letter to the probate court is therefore not sufficient. If you do not want to or cannot visit the probate court yourself, you must have the declaration of disclaimer notarized by a notary and ensure that it is received by the probate court in the correct form within the deadline.


The regular time limit for disclaiming the inheritance is 6 weeks and begins when you become aware of the accrual of the inheritance and the reason for appealing. If you are appointed by a testamentary disposition, the period does not begin until the disposition has been announced by the court. If the decedent's last residence was only abroad or if the heir was abroad when the period began, the period is 6 months.


  • A fee in accordance with the German Law on Court and Notarial Costs (Gerichts- und Notarkostengesetz, GNotKG) shall be charged for the receipt of the declaration of disclaimer.


Responsible for editing:Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz

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