Many times, residents of Germany who own property in Florida believe that their will from Germany can probate assets located within the State of Florida. While it is possible, there are many potential pitfalls.
A will that is valid in Germany, may not be valid within the State of Florida. One example is a holographic will which may be valid under German law but will only be recognized under Florida law if it was signed before two subscribing witnesses.
If the will does meet the statutory requirements and the decedent is a domiciliary of Germany, the court will normally admit the will into probate and is required to order the Personal Representative to distribute assets to those entitled to assets under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction. Should a Will not meet the requirements of Florida law the answer may be significantly different.
Also, a certificate of inheritance from an Amtsgericht in Germany is not, without more, valid to transfer property within the State of Florida. Instead, this certificate, together with a translated, certified copy of the will, court docket transcript and death certificate must be filed along with a petition for probate administration with a court of proper jurisdiction within the State of Florida.
It is therefore vitally important to plan ahead to setup an estate plan that will properly protect those left behind.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and is not intended as legal advice.