How do childless couples optimize inheritance tax?

Who actually inherits if a couple remains childless? (Symbol image)
Image: Diana Cabrera Rojas

It is a misconception that the surviving spouse inherits everything alone. Mother-in-law and brother-in-law sit at the table. And inheritance tax hits most heirs hard. What options do childless people have?

SYou don’t actually have any serious financial worries. Ute and Stefan are both in their early fifties, married to each other, childless and their jobs are relatively secure. However, they live in East Westphalia near Bielefeld, where very few people paint their own location in rosy colors. So Ute and Stefan call their almost six-figure annual salaries only “okay”. The neighbors then “poke” each other, some also envy the couple who concentrate fully on their work, hobbies and educational trips and who like to live the day off on weekends. In fact, Stefan and Ute don’t have to worry too much about their finances, because the childless couple also lives modestly to make matters worse. In other words: the money is big enough. But who is supposed to inherit the fortune one hopefully distant day?

In their work and leisure stress, Ute and Stefan haven’t given much thought to their inheritance. Both instinctively assume that if one spouse dies, the other spouse will inherit everything. But this is a mistake. According to the law, the surviving spouse inherits three quarters of the estate if the couple does not have a marriage contract and thus lived in the property regime of the community of gains. The other quarter goes to the family of the deceased spouse, initially to the parents. If the couple had agreed on a separation of property, it looks even worse for the widowed partner. He or she then only inherits half. The rest goes to the relatives.

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