The basis of our fee is the corresponding portion of inheritance, so that we only take action in debt-free and unmortgaged inheritance matters.
The heir finder should make huge bureaucratic expenditure if his efforts should be rewarded with success. If an heir is located, he will come to the advantage of a capital gain. As a result of this there exists the heir finder’s entitlement to remunerate him expenses and the expenditure of the research out of the relevant portion of inheritance.
We work at our own risk when we conduct searches for entitled persons at home and abroad. Not before the inheritance is disbursed to the entitled person, our fee is payable. There are no expenses or even payments in advance for clients or heirs, respectively. If our research is unsuccessful, we shall bear all our expenses ourselves.
The requirement of a fee agreement is based on a decision of the German Federal Supreme Court (BGH, of 23rd September, 1999, III ZR 323/98). Upon this the heir finder is obligated, in order to safeguard a fee for his services, to conclude a fee agreement with the located heirs, otherwise there is no claim for remuneration or reimbursement of expenses.Therefore it is understandable that a disclosure of our research results takes place after signing the fee agreements by all pretenders to the estate. The success-related and risk-free for clients and heirs agreement prevents an usurpation of our often troublesome, with great cost and enormous amount of time worked out results for free.A schedule of fees for heir finders does not exist in the German legislation. Historically, fees up 33% plus VAT of the net estate have become the domestic standard in our business and are considered acceptable by the courts. A partial percental fee ensures that payment and expenses are always in relation to the amount of the relevant portion of the inheritance.Success based fees for heir finders are described in the following German publications: Joachim/Pohl: Nachlasspflegschaft [Estate Administration], 3rd edition 2006; Zimmermann: Nachlasspflegschaft [Estate Administration], 2001).European and German courts have confirmed the usual commercial fee agreements, among others:
Vienna (Austria) Higher Regional Court, verdict dated October 3rd 1996, 1 Ob 2168/96x
Darmstadt (Germany) Court, verdict dated July 29th 2000, 13015/99
Berlin (Germany) Court of Appeal, verdict dated November 5th 2001, 26 U 10301/100
Berlin Court, verdict dated February 1st 2002, 35.0.423/01
Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (France), February 11th 2003, 03/80053
Tribunal de Grande Instance de Creteil (France), March 18th 2003, 02/12791/2me Chambre
Ellwangen (Germany) Court, verdict dated May 14th 2003, 5 O 95/03
Berlin (Germany) Court, verdict dated December 19th 2003, 35 O 131/03
Tribunal de Grande Instance de Grasse (France) dated January 27th 2006, RG Nr. 04/07781
Brandenburg (Germany) Higher Regional Court, verdict dated May 20th 2008, 11 U 157/07
Potsdam (Germany) Court, verdict dated Oktober 7th 2008, 6 O 128/08The basis of the calculation of the amount of our fees is the actual value of the inheritance to be paid out to the heirs plus legal VAT. All the expenses of our bureau are included.In case inheritance tax is due our fee is considered a liability of the estate so that a considerable portion of our service is counterbalanced by saving part of the inheritance tax.