Community of Heirs

What is a community of heirs?

A community of heirs arises when, after death, two or more persons are named in the will as heirs to the estate by the testator. Such a community of heirs is formed either by intestate succession or on the basis of a corresponding provision of the testator.

Who administers the estate in a community of heirs?

The basic principle of the community of heirs is that the heirs can only jointly determine the estate. The heirs form a so-called joint community of heirs, in which each co-heir is equal owner of the entire estate. Consequently, they can only decide on the estate in the liquidation by unanimous dispositions. If the pure administration of the estate can only take place jointly, corresponding special cases also arise, e.g. due to inherited real estate. On the one hand, the administration of real estate, such as a rented apartment, takes place in the community of heirs. On the other hand, however, in urgent cases or emergency situations, such as a heating failure in the rented apartment in winter, an individual co-heir can also make decisions. In this emergency situation, the individual heir acts in the interest of the community of heirs to avoid further damage to the estate, as in this example. Our law firm for inheritance law in Frankfurt will be happy to advise you in this regard.

What is an emergency administrator needed for in a community of heirs?

Emergency management only arises in urgent cases and is intended to prevent a reduction in value due to possible additional damage to the estate. The emergency manager usually arises when there is no unanimity in the community of heirs on administrative matters concerning the estate.

How to avoid a dispute in the community of heirs?

The community of heirs, whether ordained by will or created by succession, is characterized by the fact that several parties, intentionally or unintentionally, join as co-heirs in a community. Normally, all heirs accept their inheritance and a community of heirs is created. It is characterized by the fact that each co-heir must fulfill the so-called duty of cooperation in the administration of the estate. Therefore, each co-heir must participate in the administration of the inheritance. Failure to comply with this obligation may give rise to liability for damages. To avoid disputes among the community of heirs, it is usually advisable to appoint an administrator among the heirs. This administrator can make decisions about the administration of the estate by means of a power of attorney and inform the other co-heirs about changes and the status of the administration.

What makes a community of heirs so complicated?

The community of heirs is based on the heirs jointly making a consensual decision. Depending on the characters of a community of heirs or the subject matter, this can lead to points of contention and disagreement. The obligation of unanimity and the high degree of compulsion inevitably lead to a lack of flexibility in the community of heirs. As a lawyer specializing in inheritance law in Frankfurt, I will be happy to advise you in your decisions.

To whom is a certificate of inheritance issued in the community of heirs?

The certificate of inheritance as an official certificate for the administration of the inheritance, in particular in collaboration with, for example, banks, is available to each co-heir of a community of heirs. Only one heir can make use of his or her right to obtain an heir certificate if, for example, he or she has been appointed administrator of the estate; however, all co-heirs can also apply for an heir certificate. Especially if part of the estate is located abroad, it is advisable to apply for a European certificate of inheritance in addition to the certificate of inheritance.

What happens to the community of heirs if one of its members dies?

In the event of the death of an heir who was part of a community of heirs, depending on the will and the number of new heirs, there may also be a community of heirs of the deceased. This replaces the deceased member with a community of heirs: a new community of heirs is created within the existing community of heirs.

How is inheritance tax for a community of heirs in Frankfurt calculated and taxed?

The inheritance tax for a community of heirs is levied individually. As with income tax, each co-heir must be taxed on his or her share of the inheritance. It is important to note that no “tax community” is created. On the contrary, each part of the estate is responsible for taxing its own share.

Who pays the bills for a cominity of heirs?

An inheritance does not always mean increasing one’s estate. It also means inheriting the debts of the deceased. The bills associated with an inheritance must be paid jointly by the co-heirs. It is the obligation of all parties to a community of heirs to contribute financially to the expenses. There are three different ways in which bills can arise in a community of heirs. One is through the debts of the testator, i.e., the outstanding bills of a deceased person that have yet to be paid. In the case of inheritance debts, all co-heirs are also liable: debts and expenses that only arose as a result of the decedent’s death. Inheritance debts must also be mentioned if, for example, a co-heir falls into debt or even becomes insolvent. In this case, however, the community of heirs and especially the common estate are not liable. However, it is possible that creditors can be enforced against the share of the inheritance. We will be pleased to inform and advise you. Please contact our lawyers specializing in inheritance law at our law firm in Frankfurt.

Why is a community of heirs not legally capable?

The German domestic partnership, as an association of different heirs, has had legal capacity since 2002. However, a simple community of heirs does not. Here, each co-heir represents the community in equal measure. In the practical context, this means that if you want to take a community of heirs to court, you have to sue each of the co-heirs.

What are the advantages of selling a house for a community of heirs?

The succession of a community of heirs is characterized by points of contention. The sale of a jointly inherited house can facilitate the subsequent administration of the estate. The sale of an inherited house can lead to a faster conclusion of the inheritance process, with all co-heirs being paid equally. It also eliminates the additional costs of a house and reduces the risk of liability for possible damages or modernization. However, in particular cases, a house may also make sense to protect assets in the event of inflation. What happens to real estate in a community of heirs? Through a land sale or partition auction, the community of heirs can decide to simply liquidate the real estate, with each co-heir entitled to an equal share of the land.

How can a community of heirs be dissolved?

There are several ways to dissolve a community of heirs. The easiest and quickest way to dissolve a community of heirs is when there is only money left in the account. The co-heirs can then divide the estate by means of a partition plan and terminate the community. In the case of material legacies, it is advisable to first decide on an actual division and then arrange for the liquidation of the estate. In the case of a community house, for example, this may lead to it being sold jointly and the price being divided among the co-heirs, or to one co-heir keeping the house and paying the others. A community of heirs is designed to dissolve as quickly as possible. It is dissolved when the litigation has been concluded, all accounts have been settled and the assets of the community estate have been distributed. Need help? Get assistance from our lawyer specializing in inheritance law in Frankfurt am Main.  

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