It’s usually clear what a spouse should inherit once the other passes away if they are married or once they are divorced, but what happens when the divorce was filed but never finalized when the spouse dies, who inherit? What do they inherit?
Well this case was to be handled at the Oberlandesgericht in Cologne. A Woman filed for divorce and her soon to be ex agreed to it but before the courts could declare both of them single again, the man died. The woman assuming she was still the wife, went ahead to start the process to inherit the man’s properties. She applied for the Inheritance Certificate (Erbschein) at the local probate court (Nachlassgericht), which she was denied and she went to the OLG to appeal this decision.
In the provisions of the German civil code, the surviving spouse does not inherit property, if the deceased spouse had consented to a divorce.
According to the civil code § 1933 BGB if at the time of the deceased’s death, the marriage has been dissolved (e.g. by divorce) or through a court the spouse is not entitled to receive a share of the estate.
The law indicates that this applies if at the time of the deceased’s death, the conditions for the dissolution were fulfilled or the deceased had filed for the divorce.
The law also provides that if the couple wrote a joint will or agreement of succession during the time of marriage, in the case of a divorce the will is made invalid.