In Europe, there is no uniform law of succession. Not even in the European Union there is a uniform rule, which applied, and how inheritance inherited properties abroad are taxed müüen. With many countries, Germany has no double taxation agreement, so that the heirs are often a double inheritance tax to pay. In other countries such as Austria, however, there is no inheritance tax.
"There is an initial proposal for a harmonization in the field of inheritance law in the European Union. But this is still far away from an implementation," says Martin Feick, a lawyer with the lawyer AG SZA Schilling, Zutt & Anschütz in Mannheim. In the field of inheritance law, there is not even a harmonization efforts.
Inheritance of property or real estate abroad must first determine which law is applied. In some countries such as Germany, Italy or Spain, the nationality of the deceased, which inheritance is applied. "This means that a German testator under German law of succession will inherit, a Polish under Polish law of succession," says Rainer Hausmann, a professor at the University of Konstanz. In other countries like the USA, Canada, UK, Belgium or France will decide the last place of domicile of the testator as to which law is applied.
But what would be law without exceptions? "Some jurisdictions require that land in accordance with the inheritance of the state inheritance, in which the land lies," says Hausmann legal. This applies, for example, on the Belgian, English or French to inheritance. An example: A German testator leaves property in France. In Germany, the nationality principle. Under French inheritance law is a property in France, but always under French law of inheritance. The German legal system recognizes this, so that the property in this case under French law inherited.
Rules will lead to conflict
The different rules in different countries may lead to conflicts. Around then, when a US-German living after his death in the United States and Germany assets in bank accounts left behind. In Germany, the nationality principle, so that the inheritance of bank accounts in the U.S. and Germany, German law applies. But in the U.S. is basically the principle residence, so the bank accounts in both countries, under U.S. law inherit. "This allows the heirs of the so-called forum shopping," says Attorney Feick. You can choose which scheme for them is more favorable.
Beyond the inconsistent rules have German citizens with property or real estate abroad also remember that in Germany drafted wills are not always easily be recognized - even if they are of a notary was stamped. While there is the so-called Hague Agreement Testament, but these are, for example, the U.S. and Canada did not join. "The easiest way is different for each legal wills to write," advises Attorney Feick. Caution is particularly in joint wills and inheritance contracts offered. "The Community and Testament of Erbvertrag are in accordance with Belgian and Italian law, illegal and void," says Hausmann legal.
Many double threat
Many heirs also a double threat - exactly when no agreement between Germany and the foreign state exists. An agreement is currently only with Denmark, Greece, Austria, Sweden, France, Switzerland and the USA. But still there is the possibility of Germany's inheritance tax paid abroad for so-called foreign assets to be recognized. But on this point should be careful. Accounts balances abroad are not counted as assets abroad so that they are often taxed twice, "said Feick. At this circumstance is also very little change. Only in early February 2009 the European Court of Justice confirmed that the double burden of bank accounts with German and foreign inheritance tax - in this case with the Spanish tax - not against EU law. "The tax is easy to circumvent, in Germany if the testator residing in countries like Spain or similar tax situation, no bank accounts," said Feick. Also it may be advantageous to the property abroad in a society. "Prior to gifts of property or real estate abroad, you should check exactly which law must be applied and what costs," advises the Munich notary Thomas Wachter. Thus, the double taxation agreement with Switzerland just for inheritance cases, but not for gifts.
The heirs of the allowances in Spain are much lower than in Germany. The maximum personal exemption for spouses, parents and descendants of the amounts referred to in Spain is not tax resident heirs applicable state death nearly 16,000 Euros. In children under 21 years may be free to approximately 48,000 euros. "The Spanish inheritance tax is known to be very expensive and therefore feared," said Michael Fries, a lawyer at the firm Monereo Meyer Marinel-lo Abogados in Madrid. A Spanish tax residence will be presumed if the taxpayer during the past twelve months at least 183 days in Spain was made. "If the inheritance tax has one seat in Spain, he is personally liable to tax unlimited," says Fries. The legacy will be subject irrespective of which country and real estate assets of the deceased are, to the Spanish inheritance. If the legacy is less than 183 days a year in Spain, he is limited to taxation. Then, only the estate assets, which is in Spain, the Spanish inheritance. "While there is a German-Spanish double tax treaties, this does not cover the inheritance tax, so that in German-Spanish inheritance cases to double taxation," says Fries. However, both in Germany and in Spain each other in the inheritance tax paid to state requirements. "Nevertheless, already during his lifetime in the event of death resulting calculated tax burdens and meaningful action is taken," says Fries.