German inheritance law knows two types of succession : legal and voluntary succession.
According to the legal succession, if there is no arbitrary succession, the heirs become universal successors ( universal succession ) of the testator. According to the provisions of inheritance law in the German Civil Code, heirs are the spouse ( Section 1931 BGB ) or life partner ( Section 10 LPartG ) of the testator , his descendants (first-order heirs), his parents and their descendants (second-order heirs), etc.
Are the legal heirs of the deceased is unknown, one is heir research conducted.
If, on the other hand, there is a legally effective will ( § 1937 BGB), an effective joint will ( § 2265 BGB), an effective inheritance contract ( § 1941 BGB) (all disposals due to death ), then we speak of a willed succession. If only part of the property is distributed among the heirs through the disposition of death, the statutory succession shall apply to the remaining part.