Both the law of property and the law of succession constitute an essential part of the legislation in the Federal Republic of Germany and are dealt with in detail in the Civil Code. As the name suggests, inheritance law deals with inheritance, so it is primarily concerned with the legally valid distribution of the estate of a deceased testator. At the same time, the law of succession is also the branch of jurisprudence that deals with the framework conditions for dispositions upon death (will and contract of inheritance). When it comes to making provisions for one's own death or clarifying inheritance claims, inheritance law is therefore decisive.
Property law, on the other hand, is the field of law that generally deals with the legal relationships involving property. In Germany, property law thus relates to all legal relationships to physical objects, which include, among other things, movable goods and land. German property law is governed by the third book of the German Civil Code, in which all relevant laws are legally anchored.
Property law and ownership
The land charge, for example, is a part of property law and this is always relevant when inheriting a house, for example, if there is still a mortgage on the inherited property. In addition, a testator can determine in his will whether someone can use the usufruct of the property in question until his death. Usufruct and also residential rights are secured accordingly as land register entries.
At first glance, the law of property and the law of succession appear to be completely independent fields of law, which is of course correct. Nevertheless, property law is of great importance for inheritance law. Considering the fact that property law forms the basis for the exercise of inheritance rights and is at the same time a component of the applicable property law, this connection is not surprising.
Significance of property law for inheritance law
Thus, property law is the essential basis for inheritance law. As the owner of a thing or an alienable right, one can freely dispose of it according to property law, as long as this does not cause damage to third parties or violate applicable law. In the course of inheritance law, it is possible to exercise this right of ownership in advance and thus also to decide during one's lifetime what is to be done with the property before and after one's own death by means of donations. Consequently, the property law applicable in the Federal Republic of Germany is not only the basis of property, but furthermore also the basis of inheritance law. Finally, the fact that you can dispose of your estate during your lifetime as part of a disposition at death requires that you have the right to dispose of your belongings freely in the first place. The fact that these dispositions refer to one's own death thus represents, to a certain extent, an extension of the general right of ownership.
Consequently, although the individual areas of German legislation are independent of one another, they nevertheless influence one another. Among other things, this shows the great importance of property law to inheritance law today.