A precedent overwrites an otherwise valid argument

When is a will invalid?

Before a major operation, some people write a will in the event that they do not survive or become incapacitated. Is such a will invalid if the operation goes well but the testator dies some time afterwards? Yes, decided the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Düsseldorf in a decision dated August 19, 2015 (AZ: I-3 Wx 191/14). The Working Group on Inheritance Law in the DAV provides information on the case.

The testator suffered from leukemia and had to undergo a biopsy under local anesthesia. On the same day before the operation, she drew up the following last will on a small piece of paper: “This is my will: If something happens during this operation today and I no longer wake up, I will leave my entire fortune to Mr. A. ... This is my last will. "

The procedure was without complications; the testator died five months later. Mr A, her partner, then applied for a certificate of inheritance in his favor, which the testator's sister and nephews and nieces wanted to defend themselves against.

Dying from the OP as a condition? In case of doubt, designed for the long term

According to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, formulations such as "Should something happen during this intervention today and I no longer wake up", as chosen by the testator, need to be interpreted. According to the court, without further concrete evidence, it cannot be assumed that a testator will only want this legal consequence if the interference is fatal. In the present case in particular, it could be argued that it is so unlikely that a biopsy with only local anesthesia would be fatal, that precisely for this reason the inheritance must have been intentional independently.

As a rule, case law does not regard such wills drawn up with a view to a medical intervention as a snap shot that no longer applies in the event of survival. Rather, they are effective, i.e. valid, wills.

Dispute about the will? Lawyers help

You inherited but other family members believe the will is invalid? A relative has died, there are several documents and you are not sure which will is invalid and which one is valid? Or would you like to record your last will yourself and would you like to know how to correctly draw up a will?

In these and other cases, you can contact lawyers specializing in inheritance law. They will advise you and help you to find the best solution. You can also assess when a will is invalid and when a lawsuit is worthwhile. You can find competent contacts in our lawyer search.