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The simple guide to writing a last will and testament

You want to write your last will and testament but don't know how? Our checklist and sample text will help you.

The answer in detail

How to draw up your last will

Why is it worthwhile to draw up your last will?

With a will, you determine during your lifetime how your estate will be divided on your death. This can prevent later disputes. 

Does the will have to have certain form?

Yes, it must be drawn up in your own writing. In other words, you must write it from beginning to end yourself by hand and date and sign it for it to be valid. Your signature must be placed at the bottom of the text. A will drawn up on the computer is not valid.

These legal requirements regarding form must be complied with when drawing up a will.

A public will is another option. You can have this drawn up by a notary, but you must also have two witnesses for the official certification.

Where is the best place to store the will?

You can freely choose where to store the will. However, it is important that it is stored in a safe place and that it can easily be found in the event of your death. We recommend storing it in a bank safe, at the notary, or with an attorney.

What options do I have with a will?

  • Appointing heirs
    If you wish to appoint someone as an heir, then you must always observe the statutory compulsory portions, i.e. the non-revocable minimum portions of the legal heirs (children, spouses, parents).
    This means you can appoint non-statutory heirs (e.g. life partner, brother/sister-in-law, or friend) for a certain portion or a certain item or appoint statutory or non-statutory heirs for the entire estate.
  • Bequest
    Instead of appointing someone as an heir, you can appoint them as a beneficiary. Beneficiaries receive a certain item or pecuniary advantage, for example. The advantage for beneficiaries is that, unlike heirs, they are not held liable for the debts of the testator.
  • Appointing reversionary heirs
    The purpose here is to benefit two consecutive heirs or beneficiaries together.
    For example: “First  ____ [first name, last name] should receive the assets, and upon their death ____ [first name, last name].”
    The first person may use and utilize the inheritance, but not spend it completely.
  • Requirements, conditions
    With a requirement, you can obligate the heirs or beneficiaries to specified action or omissions, for example to care for the pet of the testator.
    With a condition, the legal effect of the estate or appointment of heirs is made dependent on the occurrence of a future, but uncertain event. In other words, the heir or beneficiary receives the inheritance or benefit only if the condition stipulated by the testator has been met: “The heir _______ [first name, last name] inherits only after their university studies have been completed in full.”
  • Disinheritance
    A disinheritance is possible, but subject to very stringent conditions prescribed by law.
    You can only disinherit heirs if the they have committed a serious crime against you or a loved one or violated obligations of family law in a severe way. The reasons for disinheritance must be indicated in the will as precisely as possible.
  • Estate executor
    In the will, you can appoint an estate executor to administer, execute, and divide the estate according to your instructions. The estate executor ensures immediate and indisputable execution of the estate. They receive suitable compensation for this from the estate.

Can I amend my will?

You should review your will every couple of years and make sure the provisions relating to form are adhered to at all times: Amendments and additions must always be written by hand and confirmed with the date and your signature.

Additions, corrections, etc., can be written in the text, in the margins, or as an addendum to the original will, or written in a separate deed.

It is possible to revoke the entire will by submitting a so-called revocation will.  This simply contains the instruction that all previous orders shall be deemed void: “I revoke all my previous wills.” Here, too, certain provisions relating to form must be complied with. Alternatively, you can destroy the will. In other words, you can tear or burn it, throw it away, paint over the text, etc.

You'll find other useful detailed information in our checklist and in our sample text.

Important documents
Checkliste Testament
Vorlage Eigenhändiges Testament