The UK has had a long and interesting history with the German people. It began with the Saxons, continued in medieval times with the Hansiatic league and more recently, we have had a rollercoaster relationship, one which historically you would expect where two great nations are in proximity to each other.

Today, we are as it should be close friends. The 2011 census revealed almost 300,000 people living in the UK who were born in Germany and approximately 50,000 German nationals currently live in London.  

Locally, witness the excellent German Gymnasium restaurant thriving in an 1870s building which was an actual gymnasium for the then local German population.  A few years after it was built the German Gymnasium hosted the first indoor Olympics which was so successful that the modern Olympic Games grew out of it. 

With this long history it is not surprising that there are cross-border issues to deal with on both sides of the Channel when someone dies. Either there are relatives in Germany or property or assets in Germany or vice versa, where the deceased was a German national. More regularly the situation is more mixed and complicated. Some of the family might live here in the UK and are tax resident here. Others may live in Germany and be resident for tax purposes there, with assets and liabilities in both countries. 

Add to this interesting mix the two very different and distinct ways in which English law and German law deal with matters on the death of an individual, the very different way in which the intestacy rules apply in the two countries as well as the very different tax regimes, and it is no wonder that these complications can result in even experienced practitioners pulling their hair out and trying to find a way through two jurisdictions and their requirements!

How do you choose which jurisdiction to apply to and having chosen, do you need to make a second application in the second country to realise assets and deal with the matters that arise in that country?  Usually the first question to ask where you have these complications is, where do you go to get the necessary authority to deal with the deceaseds affairs? In the UK, we apply to the Court for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. In Germany it is somewhat different. 

And then hovering over all of this is Brexit, and the effect this might have on the way in which the two countries will deal with Estates post-Brexit. 

With this in mind our associates in Germany, Graf and Partners, have developed the Cross Channel lawyers website with blogs and articles signposting some preliminary advice for families and potential beneficiaries who find themselves dealing with these complications. 

Blogs and articles on the Cross Channel site are helpful signposts but do not provide complete answers to the individual circumstances of each case.  Every family situation is different with personal circumstances, assets and liabilities and with differing requirement and availabilities to pay tax and it is essential that clients seek the necessary expertise.  

Lyndales and Graf and Partners have developed a seamless one stop service. The first thing we do is determine who is better to be the lead lawyer. Either Bernhard Schmeilzl from Graf and Partners in Germany or Lyndales where it is more appropriate for the lead to be in the UK.  Either way, whenever there is an Anglo German angle, both firms get involved with the aim of giving the client a proper rounded view of the best way to go forward.  This may be tax driven or it may be more about the practicalities or dealing with family politics. All of these matters will be taken into account so that the clients will have at the very least the necessary advice to enable them to make the best decision. 

We are holding a series of seminars to explain more about how we work and the partners of Lyndales are delighted to welcome Bernhard at our offices who will be jointly presenting the seminar.  This first seminar is on Thursday the 3 November at our offices at Tavistock Square and if you have an interest in any of these matters and wish to join us, please book your tickets through the following link:

I will be adding to the Lyndales website content and articles from time to time on Anglo German issues, initially on private client matters but subsequently on family and Company commercial matters also.


We hope that you can join us on the 3 November. If not, feel free to contact

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