How can I find an old legacy

Opening of the will at the probate court

If a relative finds a will in his or her records after the death of the testator, he is obliged to submit it to the probate court immediately. Anyone who destroys or suppresses the will is committing a criminal document suppression (Section 274 of the Criminal Code). If the person falsifies the content of the document, he commits forgery (§ 267 StGB) and fraud (§ 263 StGB). Above all, this person risks being declared unworthy of inheritance and losing any existing legal inheritance right. It also runs the risk of being liable to pay compensation to the heirs in the will if it thwarted the implementation of the will and the heirs would lose any assets from the estate as a result.

The probate court learns of the Existence of a will, it will request the person in possession of the testator's documents by an official resolution to hand over this testamentary disposition. The probate court can also require certain persons to submit an affidavit stating where the will is located. If the person in possession of the will refuses to deliver, the probate court can impose a fine on him and, if necessary, enforce delivery by means of coercion.

It is therefore not left to the decision of the relatives whether they interpret the testamentary will of the testator at their own discretion, keep it to themselves or hand it over to the probate court. A relative may not refuse to deliver the will on the grounds that he considers the will to be ineffective. Only the probate court can determine whether the will was validly drawn up or not.

Anyone who is appointed as the sole heir and finds the will is also well advised to submit the will to the probate court. This is the only way he can guarantee that his Officially determined heir status and may not be challenged retrospectively by other potential heirs

An order of the testator in the will that the will should not be opened after his death is void according to § 2263 BGB.