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How do I make a will?

By making a will, you give instructions on what is to be done with your assets after your death, and you can prevent your assets from being distributed according to the statutory provisions that apply in the absence of a will.

In order to make a will, you have to be at least 18 years old and you must be capable of judgement.

There are three types of will:

The holograph will

For this type of will, the procedure is that you write it by hand from beginning to end, add a note of the day, month and year in which it is made, and sign it.

The will can simply be kept safely at home or held in safekeeping by a public official or a notary in return for a fee.

Don't forget to say that you revoke any wills that you made earlier. If you make any subsequent changes to the will, these must be clearly recognisable in the will. The changes must be handwritten, dated and signed. If you destroy your will, it automatically becomes invalid.

A holograph will should contain:

  • The heading "Will"
  • The personal details of the testator (person making the will), such as his or her forename(s), surname, date of birth, and place of origin
  • A clause revoking any previous wills
  • Instructions on what is to be done with your assets: Basically you can leave anyone more or less than they might receive under the laws on intestacy. However, you must ensure that your statutory heirs receive their statutory entitlements (= minimum shares of the estate).
  • You can also leave individual articles (jewellery, collections) or assets (money, real estate) to specific heirs (bequests) and formulate contingencies or conditions. You can also set up a foundation that will use your assets for a specific purpose.
  • The names of the executors if you so wish.
  • The place and date
  • Your signature

Avoid putting instructions on your funeral in the will. It is often the case that wills are found and read for the first time after the funeral. It is better to give someone your funeral instructions when you are still alive, either your next-of-kin, the funerals office or your chosen undertaker.

If you have any questions, you should consult a notary.

Model will (to be handwritten)
43 kb

Public wills

You give the instructions for your will to an official or a notary in the presence of two witnesses. The official draws up the will in a document and holds the signed document in safekeeping. By signing, the witnesses confirm that you that you have the capacity to make a will and that you have declared in their presence that you have read the will and that it contains your testamentary wishes.

Oral wills

An oral will only comes into question if it is impossible to make a will in any other way, e.g. when there is an immediate threat of death, in wartime, etc.
You have to give the instructions for your will to two witnesses. These witnesses must put your will into writing as soon as possible, stating the place and date when the will was made orally and providing a written explanation of the special circumstances, before signing the will and sending it to the court authorities.

Contesting wills

Wills that do not meet the formal requirements or fail to provide for statutory entitlements are not automatically invalid; they must be contested in court by the statutory heirs.

Further information