How to create a testament?

I’ve been living with my fiancée for almost ten years. We don’t marry for fiscal reasons, mostly, as federal taxes would cost us a fortune.

What I’d like to do now is take care of things in case one of us dies. We are both registered as beneficiaries in each other’s pension fund. So writing a testament is next on my list. Yet this topic becomes more confusing the more I read about it.

Does anybody have any experience in how a testament is created? Do you need to go to a lawyer? Can you really just handwrite whatever’s on your mind? What are the formalities? Where do you store it? I’ve heard about Erbschaftsamt, is that the proper place to store it?

will no longer be needed in a few years, but i have one, handwritten & at home. i guess it depends on the complexity involved & safety needed.

As long as it is in favour of your fiancée it should be fine to have at home. Depositing at the Erbschaftsamt is something to consider if your wishes are to the (financial) detriment to a spouse. Say you are married, and want to donate 50% of your estate to a charity… Having it at the Erbschaftsamt would then also be preferable to having it in a safe or other place, where the survivors may struggle to get access or need to have witnesses etc. before it is opened. An unnecessary hassle in an already difficult time.

Handwritten should be okay, if it is not overly complicated or possibly conflicting with legal minimum splits. If you are not married and have no children, you should be able to freely decide over 100% of the estate though. If you don’t, it will go back to the parents / siblings.

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Handwritten is not just ok, but mandatory! A printed will, even if it is signed by hand, is invalid!
Pro Senectute has a nice webpage on that topic (not in English though): Testament und Erbschaften


You are right, if you want to do it on your own. The alternative is to do it with a notary, these don’t have to be handwritten but it shouldn’t be necessary for most simple cases. Any testament without formal notary witnessing is invalid unless it is fully handwritten. Thank you for pointing out that my response can be misunderstood.

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Stupid question: How would one know whether I have handwritten it or someone else?