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Inheritance law

Timely and comprehensive provision

Few people like to deal with death. Nevertheless, it is useful and reassuring to know that you have made provisions for the worst case scenario in the interest of your relatives.

We will be happy to advise you.

We advise and support on the preservation of family assets, questions of inheritance law, assisting in the drafting of wills and advising heirs, beneficiaries of compulsory portions and legatees. We not only represent you in probate proceedings, but also take preventive action to ensure that your last will and testament is carried out in an orderly manner and effectively. Despite the loss of attractiveness of the private foundation, it still has significance today – especially for the preservation and structuring of family businesses and assets and the provision for both one’s own lifetime and that of the family.

We help you to make timely and comprehensive provisions.

Inheritance cases with a foreign connection pose many questions and challenges for the potential testator and his or her relatives: Where to settle? If in Austria, what will be dealt with? Is the will made abroad valid? Which law applies to the succession? Where can a claim to a compulsory portion be asserted?

The EU Inheritance Regulation is to be applied to inheritance cases with cross-border implications as of 17 August 2015. From that time onwards, both international jurisdiction and the applicable law for the succession are in principle linked to the last habitual residence of the deceased. This can be prevented by making use of the limited choice of law. If the habitual residence is to be taken into account, it is advisable to include a comprehensive preamble when drawing up a testamentary disposition, from which the habitual residence is clear. Testamentary dispositions that have already been drawn up should be reviewed and adapted to the new legal situation. JM Attorneys at Law will be happy to assist you in this regard.

"There is life after death: the resurrection of heirs."

Klaus Klages

What does the current law of succession in Austria have to say?

When a person dies, many legal questions in connection with this death arise. The law of succession deals with the legal succession of the deceased. Only natural persons are eligible for this.

The entire estate, i.e. all assets and liabilities of the deceased, is distributed among the heirs. This means that inheritance law deals with the transfer of private rights (e.g. property, liens) or the deceased’s liabilities under the law of obligations (e.g. loan repayments, outstanding rent).

Highly personal rights (including paternity or the status of spouse) are non-inheritable and do not fall under the estate.

The EU Inheritance Regulation (EuErbVO) governs the applicable law in cross-border cases. The regulation not only governs the jurisdiction of the courts, but also includes rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.

Thus, Austrian law applies to a foreigner if he or she had his or her habitual residence in Austria at the time of death and no choice of law was made in the form of the testamentary disposition (Art. 22(2) and (3) EuErbVO).

Which inheritance law applies to foreigners in Austria?

What does the EU Inheritance Regulation mean?

The EU Inheritance Regulation (EuErbVO) entered into force in August 2015. It applies in all EU member states except Denmark, Ireland and the UK. This regulation governs which law of succession applies in cases of international succession, i.e. when the deceased dies outside his or her home state in another EU member state.

The European Succession Regulation links the application of national succession law to the habitual residence of the deceased. However, it is open to the testator to make a choice of law in the form of a last will. He can determine whether the law of succession of his country of origin or of his habitual residence should apply to his estate.

The new legal situation eliminates the previously existing duplication: if an EU citizen lives in Austria and dies there, only Austrian courts will have jurisdiction in the future. They shall apply Austrian law exclusively, unless the testator has arranged otherwise.

In relation to inheritance law, individuals are often faced with questions such as these:

  • What formal requirements do I have to observe when making a will?
  • Are there different ways of writing a testamentary disposition?
  • Do I need other people, such as a notary or witnesses, to make a will?
  • Will my former partner also receive a share?
  • Do my parents or siblings get a share of the inheritance?

Whether you want to draw up a will or you are unsure about the legal succession, you want to know whether and under what conditions you can exclude a person from inheritance and what consequences a divorce has on a will.

As a descendant, you ask yourself whether you are entitled to a part of the inheritance, at least the compulsory portion, and in what form this is to be paid out.

No matter what kind of questions arise in the area of inheritance law, we recommend that you seek professional advice from a lawyer in good time, because advice and legal support obtained at an early stage can save you a lot of worry and safeguard your family assets. After all, you want to ensure that your last will and testament is also implemented in your best interests.

When should I contact a lawyer for inheritance law?

Inheritance Law Amendment Act 2015

The Inheritance Law Amendment Act 2015 brings some changes into force. Here you will find an overview of the main changes. Inheritance Law Amendment Act 2015

We help you to make comprehensive provisions in good time.

Legal representation is a matter of trust. At an initial personal meeting, you can convince yourself of our competence and find out about your legal options as well as the costs likely to be incurred.

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Mag. Andreas Weinwurm

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Here you will find exciting articles by our lawyers on the topic of inheritance law.