Apply for a certificate of inheritance

The probate court will issue you a certificate of inheritance. It certifies that you are an heir, i.e. that you are the legal successor to the testator. This is the case if you are appointed by law of succession, or if the deceased person named you as heir...

The probate court will issue you a certificate of inheritance. It certifies that you are an heir, i.e. that you are the legal successor to the testator. This is the case if you are appointed by law of succession, or if the deceased person named you as heir in the will or inheritance contract.
For example, the inheritance certificate gives you access to the deceased person's bank accounts or you can request entries in the land register.

As a rule, a certificate of inheritance is not necessary for a clear will recorded before a notary.

Important notes


As an heir, you can apply for a certificate of inheritance.

Documents required

  • Official photo identification, for example ID card or passport
  • Death certificate of the deceased person, i.e. the testator
  • 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
  • Information about whether there is a process regarding your inheritance law
  • Proof why certain people who would actually be (co-)heirs are not heirs, for example:
    • Death certificates
    • Declarations of renunciation of inheritance
    • Inheritance waivers
  • If available, wills or inheritance contracts or at least the information about them, for example in the case of special official custody
  • For married couples: if necessary, proof of the property regime
  • For registered civil partnerships: if necessary, proof of assets

Please note

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. The aim is to provide evidence of all events in your family that are relevant to inheritance law and relate to the testator. These can be marriage, divorce, births of children, deaths, inheritance renunciations and the like. If you are unsure about what documents you need to submit, you can ask your local probate court.



Procedure & Fees


You apply for a 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 to be issued there.
  • Use the form provided: Appointment, inheritance certificate application
  • Attach all required documents to your letter.
  • Alternatively, you can submit the application through an authorized person, such as a notary or lawyer, or submit it for the record in court.
  • Submit an affirmation in lieu of oath in person before the local court or before a notary. This assures you that you are not aware of anything that would conflict with the accuracy of the information you provided in the inheritance certificate application.
    • This is not necessary if the district court waives it.
    • If a notary certifies the insurance under oath, this person can certify the inheritance certificate application at the same time.
  • The district court checks your eligibility and issues the certificate of inheritance.

Processing time

Depends on the district court.


  • The amount of the fees depends on the value of the estate after deducting the debts of the deceased.

  • The issuance of a sole inheritance certificate by the probate court costs, for example

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

  • with an estate value of EUR 100,000 EUR 273.00 and

  • with an estate value of EUR 500,000 EUR 935.00.

  • In addition, you must pay the same amount of fees for notarizing an affidavit at the probate court or at a notary. In addition, there may be writing expenses and sales tax.

Table of fees: Court and Notary Fees Act (GNotKG) Annex 2 (to Section 34 Paragraph 3)

  • An advance on costs is required for applicants residing abroad.

Legal notes

Legal remedies


If there are conflicting interests in the inheritance certificate procedure before the probate court, the probate court may not issue the certificate of inheritance immediately. The district court issues a decision in which it states that it considers the facts necessary to justify the application for a certificate of inheritance to have been established. According to Sections 58 and 63 FamFG, those involved then have the opportunity to lodge a so-called appeal against this decision within a period of one month. The certificate of inheritance will only be issued if no one has lodged a complaint against the probate court's decision after the one-month period has expired and the decision has therefore become legally binding. In addition, according to Section 59 FamFG, the person who was unable to convince the probate court with their arguments in the inheritance certificate procedure and whose rights are thereby impaired can file a complaint.


By applying for the certificate of inheritance, the inheritance is automatically deemed to have been accepted - it is then no longer possible to renounce the inheritance.

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

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

Application for confiscation of the certificate of inheritance

Legal basis

Sections 2353 to 2370 of the German Civil Code (BGB)

§§ 352 to 352 e of the law on the procedure in family matters and in matters of voluntary jurisdiction (FamFG)

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