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Apply for a limited joint inheritance certificate

Each co-heir can apply to the probate court for a so-called joint inheritance certificate for several heirs. This can be limited to the estate items located in Germany if parts of the estate are located abroad.

Detailed description

When a testator dies, he usually leaves behind not just one heir, but several. These become part of the so-called community of heirs when they inherit.

In principle, each individual co-heir can apply for a certificate of inheritance with which he can identify himself as the rightful heir to third parties.

However, if the community of heirs wants to appear together and act towards banks, insurers and the land registry office, a joint certificate of inheritance is often necessary.

A certificate of inheritance limited to certain items in Germany (objectively limited certificate of inheritance) can be issued by the probate court upon application if the estate (inherited assets) also includes items located abroad. A materially limited certificate of inheritance should be applied for if this speeds up the process for issuing the certificate of inheritance (for example, because no foreign inheritance law needs to be determined), or because the certificate of inheritance is not needed abroad and costs can be saved by restricting it.




There is a co-heir position and items of the estate are located both in Germany and abroad.

Documents required

  • Your official photo ID (ID card or passport)
  • Death certificate of the testator (deceased person)
  • Documents to document your status as legal heir, for example:
    • Family register
    • Marriage certificates of the testator
    • Birth certificates of the testator's children and grandchildren
    • Adoption documents
    • Divorce decrees with legal effect
  • Proof why certain people who would actually be (co-)heirs are not heirs, for example:
    • Death certificates of children and grandchildren or spouses of the testator
    • Declarations of renunciation of inheritance
    • Inheritance waivers
  • Information about whether there is a court case regarding your inheritance law
  • For married couples, proof of matrimonial property regime
  • For registered civil partnerships, proof of assets

If the testator himself had no children, the following must be submitted:
  • Birth certificate of the testator
  • If applicable, death certificates of the testator's parents
  • If applicable, birth certificates of the testator's siblings
  • If applicable, death certificates of the testator's siblings
  • If applicable, birth certificates of the testator's nieces and nephews

In addition, marriage certificates must be submitted by heirs if their last name has changed as a result of the marriage.

Please note

Only one of the co-heirs must submit the application for a certificate of inheritance.

To prove your status as an heir in the case of legal succession (if there is no will or inheritance contract), you must submit various documents. This involves documenting all events in your family that are relevant to inheritance law and that relate to the testator. These can include marriage, divorce, births of children, deaths, renunciations of inheritance and the like. If you are not sure which documents you must submit, you can ask the responsible probate court.

Please note:
The probate court does not provide legal advice. Please contact the persons authorized to provide legal advice. These are lawyers or notaries.
The Public Legal Advice Service (ÖRA) offers low-cost legal advice for people with low incomes.




You apply for a limited joint certificate of inheritance at the responsible probate court (usually the court in whose district the deceased last lived):

  • Submit an application for a certificate of inheritance
  • Please use the form provided.
  • Attach all required documents.
  • The application for a certificate of inheritance must only be submitted by one co-heir.
  • Alternatively, you can submit the application through an authorized person, such as a notary or a lawyer, or have it recorded in court.
  • Make a declaration in person before the district court or before a notary public, confirming that you are not aware of anything that would contradict the accuracy of the information you have provided in the application for a certificate of inheritance.
    • This is not necessary if the district court waives it.
    • If a notary certifies the declaration under oath, this person can at the same time certify the application for a certificate of inheritance.
  • After you have applied for the certificate of inheritance, the local court will check your eligibility and issue the certificate of inheritance.

Processing time

The processing time depends on the complexity of the inheritance case and the respective local court.


The amount of the fees depends on the value of the estate (inherited assets) after deducting the debts of the testator (deceased person).

  • For example, the issuing of a certificate of inheritance by the probate court costs:

    • for an estate value of EUR 30,000 EUR 125.00

    • for an estate value of EUR 100,000 EUR 273.00

    • for an estate value of EUR 500,000 EUR 935.00

  • In addition, you must pay fees of the same amount for the notarization of an affidavit at the probate court or at a notary public.

  • In addition, there may be additional costs for writing and sales tax.

  • Applicants residing abroad may be required to pay an advance on costs.

Legal remedies


If there are conflicting interests in the inheritance certificate procedure before the probate court, the probate court may not issue the inheritance certificate immediately.

The district court issues a decision stating that it considers the facts necessary to substantiate the application for a certificate of inheritance to have been established.

The parties then have the opportunity, in accordance with Sections 58 and 63 FamFG, to lodge an appeal against this decision within a period of one month.

The certificate of inheritance will only be issued if, after the expiry of the one-month period, no one has lodged an appeal against the decision of the probate court and the decision has thus become final and binding.

In addition, according to Section 59 FamFG, a person who was unable to convince the probate court with his or her arguments in the inheritance certificate procedure and whose rights are thereby impaired can file an appeal.


By applying for the certificate of inheritance, the inheritance is automatically considered accepted – renouncing the inheritance is then no longer possible.

Heirs can then only prevent the inheritance by contesting the acceptance of the inheritance. However, a reason must be provided that justifies the contestation (for example, certain errors).

It is recommended that you seek legal advice from a lawyer. The district court is not permitted to provide legal advice.

In the case of partial and joint inheritance certificates, each heir within the community of heirs is entitled to contest the certificate.

Legal basis

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Last updated: 13.07.2024