What actually is a community of heirs?

Whenever a decedent leaves not just one but several heirs, they form a so-called community of heirs. The individual members of the community of heirs are also referred to as co-heirs. They can be appointed as heirs either on the basis of intestate succession or through voluntary succession, i.e. through a will. The succession is determined by the probate court.

It is not uncommon for disputes to arise between co-heirs when it comes to the division of a joint inheritance. In order to avoid this, the testator must make clear and detailed arrangements. This stipulates who takes over which rights and assets and what, if anything, they have to do in return. The testator's will in this regard is recorded in the will, and a distinction must be made between three legal categories - the establishment of an inheritance, a legacy and an obligation. Furthermore, the testator can ensure, e.g. by means of an executor, that his testamentary dispositions are also complied with.

Even in the case of a community of heirs, a certificate of inheritance is often required in order to accept the inheritance. This is issued by a probate court. It identifies a person as the heir and states what share of the estate this heir will receive. In the case of a community of heirs, two types of certificates of inheritance can be issued. The joint certificate of inheritance contains the names of all co-heirs and their respective share of the estate in quotas. It can only be applied for jointly by all co-heirs. In addition, each co-heir can also apply for a partial certificate of inheritance. This only relates to his or her individual inheritance position.

Attention: A certificate of inheritance does not make anyone an heir! If it transpires after the certificate of inheritance has been issued that its content is incorrect, it will be withdrawn by the probate court. However, persons who previously relied on the correctness of the certificate of inheritance are protected. The content of the certificate of inheritance is nevertheless deemed to be correct for legal transactions with them. They can therefore effectively acquire ownership of estate items from the presumed heir.

By the way, you can also disclaim your inheritance. As a co-heir in a community of heirs, you are a normal heir. You therefore have the legal right to disclaim the inheritance and then receive - if you are entitled to a compulsory portion - the claim to your compulsory portion. This is a claim for payment against the estate, the amount of which corresponds to half of the statutory share of the inheritance. If you wish to disclaim the inheritance, you must declare your disclaimer in writing to the probate court within six weeks of becoming aware that you are the heir.

You have inherited a property and do not know what to do with it? Contact us! We will be glad to help you.

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Legal Notice: This article does not constitute tax or legal advice in individual cases. Please have the facts of your specific individual case clarified by a lawyer and/or tax advisor.


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