Single parent will: What needs to be considered

Single parent will: What needs to be considered

© Dziana Hasanbekava -


If a single mother or father dies, only the children inherit. Single parents should still make a will early – especially if the offspring are still minors.

Those who have a will provide for the worst case scenario. Not least single parents with minor children should not put off writing their last will and testament. Because: If the estate is not settled clearly and unambiguously, there is a risk that things will take a course that would not have been in the deceased’s best interests.

“For example, if there is no will and the children are still minors, the divorced spouse could influence the inheritance” says the Bonn specialist lawyer for inheritance law, Eberhard Rott. Generally, when a single parent dies, only the children inherit. If there are several of them, they inherit in equal shares.

If the children are minors, the inherited assets are administered by the other parent until the child or children reach the age of majority – provided that the parents had joint custody of their offspring until the inheritance occurred. “Because such a possibility for the former partner to access the assets is often not desired, there is no way around a will for single parents,” explains Martin Thelen from the Federal Chamber of Notaries in Berlin.

Determine confidants in advance

For example, a will can revoke the right of the other parent to manage the assets of the minor children and instead appoint a trusted person as a so-called guardian. “Such a stipulation in a will is legally binding,” Thelen says. If a single parent has sole custody of their minor children, they can specify in their will who should be the guardian for the children after their death.

“In the absence of such a stipulation in the will, most often the family court must appoint a guardian,” Rott said. This is then not necessarily someone who would have corresponded to the ideas of the deceased. In a will, single parents can also specify who, beyond the other parent, should not under any circumstances manage assets for the children or act as guardian.

Which is also possible: “In addition to the guardian or conservator, appoint a trusted person as executor,” explains Rott, who is chairman of the board of directors of the Consortium for the Execution of Wills and Asset Protection. The guardian then takes care of the personal affairs of the children, while the executor handles the financial side and manages the assets for the minors.

Executor does not have to be an expert

The executor is active until the children themselves can deal responsibly with the inherited assets. “The execution of a will, unlike the guardianship, may be prolonged in time, for example, until the age of 25. age or beyond, be ordered,” Thelen says. In Rott’s view, appointing an executor also makes sense if one of several children is already of age and another is still a minor.

The executor ensures that the inheritance is distributed exactly as the deceased specified in his or her last will and testament. Incidentally, any adult who is legally competent and not under asset supervision is eligible for this – so it doesn’t have to be a lawyer or asset manager. If, on the other hand, you need an expert who is familiar with taxes because of a large fortune, Rotts Arbeitsgemeinschaft can help you find one.

In order for the last will and testament of the deceased to be taken into account, a will must be valid in form. That is: It is written and signed with your own hand, also the place and date should not be missing. Since some mistakes can be made when drafting a will, testators should seek legal advice – for example from a lawyer specialising in inheritance law or from a notary.

Inheritance excludes ex-partner

Single parents should also consider the following case: Suppose a single mother dies. She leaves behind three children. If at a later date one of these children should die without any descendants of his or her own, the former partner of the once single mother will inherit.

“That’s generally not intentional,” Thelen says. In order to prevent this, the woman can order in her will a so-called succession. It works like this: The wife merely designates her children as her predecessors by will and at the same time determines who is to be her successor after their death.

From Thelen’s point of view, there is a lot to be said for testators not leaving their last will and testament in handwriting but drawing up a notarial will: “In addition to the notary’s advice, this has the advantage that the heirs do not need a certificate of inheritance, which the children or their representatives would otherwise have to apply for in order to be able to access the deceased’s bank account and other assets.

However, such a certificate of inheritance costs on the one hand money, on the other hand also time, namely some weeks, sometimes also longer. Testators could spare their survivors both with a notarial will.

Source: / dpa

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