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Inheriting and inheriting Wrong paper can make wills ineffective

For a will to be effective, it must be drawn up with what is known as a serious will. Anyone who uses the wrong paper document can cast doubts about the last will in court.


A will is one of the most important pieces of writing in a lifetime. It decides how the testator wants to dispose of the assets built up during life - who inherits and who sometimes goes empty-handed. Doubts about the last will and the validity of the will can arise if the will is not made on a conventional writing pad.

The working group inheritance law of the German Lawyers' Association (DAV) informs about a decision of the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamm (AZ: 10 W 153/15), in which a "will" on a small cut out note or on one Greaseproof paper was made.

In the case under investigation, a widowed testator left a daughter and four grandchildren, the children of her predeceased son. The daughter applied for a certificate of inheritance for herself and the four grandchildren according to the legal succession. However, the grandchildren submitted two documents to the probate court, according to which the deceased brother is said to have become the sole heir.

Wills on greaseproof paper stir up doubts

This was a small piece of paper cut out by hand. It was handwritten on it: "Tesemt", "House" and "That stands for ... [the son]". Underneath were the year 1986 and the signature of the testator. The second document was a piece of greaseproof paper with similar words and a key attached to it with adhesive tape. The children were therefore of the opinion that they alone, as successors to the son, had become heirs.

The OLG decides wrongly: It could not be established with certainty that these documents were willed by the will of the testator. If you have any doubts about the serious will to testify, you should check whether it is not just one Draft will acts. If these doubts cannot be dispelled, there is no valid will. The assumption of such doubts is justified here by the unusual writing surface alone. The spelling errors only supported the court's view. dhz / dpa

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