A post-mortem power of attorney for assets in Germany

Many people living in Namibia with German-speaking roots have a bank account or shares in a company in Germany. What happens now if the account holder or entrepreneur dies and has not left a German will for their foreign assets? As a rule, the heirs must apply for a certificate of inheritance so that they can deal with the bank or its business partners.

In order to obtain such a certificate of inheritance, the heirs will usually have to apply for a certificate of inheritance at the German Embassy in Windhoek, where a number of documents must be submitted, such as the death certificate of the deceased person, the will, the marriage certificate of the deceased, the birth certificates and addresses of all heirs as well as the death certificates of the heirs who have already died.

Unfortunately, this procedure is often time-consuming and involves considerable hurdles. The above process can be circumvented with a post-mortem power of attorney.

What is a post-mortem power of attorney?

The German legal system distinguishes between a trans mortal power of attorney and a post-mortem power of attorney. In the former case, the power of attorney is granted during the testator’s lifetime and beyond the time of death; in the case of a post-mortem power of attorney, it is effective as from the death of the testator. Both forms of power of attorney are therefore granted for the period after the death of the testator and relate exclusively to the estate.

Advantages of a post-mortem power of attorney

The post-mortem power of attorney enables an accelerated and simplified settlement of the estate. This gives the testator the option of appointing a person he trusts to handle his estate. As a rule, the heirs do not have to apply separately for a certificate of inheritance from the German embassy or a German probate court and can act much more flexibly with such a power of attorney. This can save the heirs a considerable amount of time and, in particular, the associated costs of applying for a certificate of inheritance. Depending on the size of the estate, costs of several thousand euros can be avoided.

For whom is a post-mortem power of attorney useful?

A post-mortem power of attorney is particularly important in the event that real estate in Germany forms part of the estate of the testator living in Namibia. Such a procedure is also recommended for the settlement of the deceased’s existing accounts. Properly drawn up post-mortem powers of attorney increase acceptance by banks and other business institutions. If the deceased leaves behind a company, it is also particularly important to appoint a person to directly continue the business.

What can we do for you?

In order to ensure that the post-mortem power of attorney has the desired effect and that no ambiguities remain, careful planning and drafting of such a power of attorney is essential. We will be happy to assist you with the drafting of such a power of attorney and are of course also available to assist you with other inheritance law issues. Please contact us at any time!

Author: Ulrich Etzold, lawyer, in cooperation with Dr. Richard Schulz (trainee lawyer at the Munich Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht München), currently working as an intern at the law firm Etzold-Duvenhage)

Ulrich Etzold & Dr. Richard Schulz

Disclaimer of liability

Please note that the above information is not intended as legal advice. This article is for information purposes only and neither Etzold-Duvenhage nor its employees shall be liable for any direct or indirect loss arising from reliance on the contents of this article. This article is limited to matters of current Namibian law. In the event that the contents of this document are relevant to a reader, we advise the reader to contact their lawyer for legal advice.