SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

INHERITANCE

Everything you need to know about Austrian inheritance laws

Planning on living in Austria for the long-term - or even a medium-term? Then you might want to consider making a will. Before you get started, here’s what you need to know about Austrian inheritance laws.

old couple in Spain
Get clued up on inheritance laws in Austria before making a will. Photo: Christian Bowen / Unsplash

Austrian inheritance law – at a glance

Inheritance law in Austria is subject to the European Succession Regulation, which governs cross-border inheritance. It applies to all EU member states, apart from Ireland and Denmark.

This means if a non-Austrian citizen lives in Austria – as in, it is their “last place of habitual residence” – then Austrian inheritance laws will apply when that person dies.

But if, for example, an Austrian has a primary residence in Italy, then Italian inheritance laws will apply, unless stated otherwise in a will.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Property buying rules for international residents in Austria

The European Succession Regulation can also apply to non-EU citizens if they have assets in Austria when they die. However, this depends on the last place of habitual residence and third country inheritance laws, such as those in the USA or Turkey, may also apply. 

To avoid any possible future legal battles, it makes sense for anyone living in Austria to specify in a will which laws they would like to be applied in the event of their death. But, according to Erbrecht ABC, this is limited to a choice between the country of residence and country of citizenship.

Furthermore, the place of death has no influence on what is considered as the habitual place of residence when it comes to inheritance laws in Austria.

Who inherits what in Austria?

In Austria, statutory inheritance laws state that a person’s assets will go to their heirs when they die. Children (or grandchildren) inherit two thirds of the estate and the spouse inherits one third.

However, even if there is a will, there is also the forced heirship law, known as Pflichtteilsrecht, which limits a person’s rights when it comes to dividing their assets for inheritance.

READ MORE: ‘Life is about opportunities’: Why people move to Austria

This means that close relatives – children, grandchildren, spouses and registered partners – must receive a minimum portion of the deceased’s estate. Parents are not included in this law since January 1st 2017.

The compulsory minimum portion is 50 percent of the statutory inheritance amount and the calculation is based on the value of the estate.

Is there an inheritance tax in Austria?

Since August 1st 2008, there has been no inheritance tax in Austria.

But there is a real estate transfer tax of 3.5 percent if someone inherits property, or 2 percent for close relatives. The tax is calculated based on the value of the property (Grundstückswert).

In the case of gifts of cash or shares before a person dies, they must be declared to the tax man if they exceed €50,000 (for relatives) or €15,000 (for third parties).

READ ALSO: ‘Be mindful of energy and food waste’: How to beat inflation in Austria

What happens if I don’t make a will?

If someone lives in Austria and dies without leaving a will, the Austrian laws of intestate succession apply. 

This means the spouse, children and grandchildren are first in line, followed by parents and their descendants, then grandparents and their descendants.

If there are no children, then a spouse inherits two thirds of the estate and one third goes to the parents. If there are no other heirs, then the spouse becomes the sole heir to the estate.

Useful vocabulary

Legacy – (das) Erbe

Heirs – (die) Erben 

Inheritance law – (das) Erbrecht

Will – (das) Testament 

Testator – (der) Erblasser

Succession – (die) Erbfolge 

Property value – (der) Grundstückswert

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

COST OF LIVING

Why (and when) double-digit inflation is set to hit Austria

Financial experts in Austria do not expect inflation to slow down any time soon. In fact, they are predicting the opposite. Here's what you need to know.

Why (and when) double-digit inflation is set to hit Austria

In a recent interview, inflation expert Josef Baumgartner forecast that inflation in Austria will hit double-digits in the coming months.

Baumgartner, from the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), told Kurier that residents in Austria should prepare themselves for an ongoing increase in inflation due to rising energy prices.

Baumgartner said: “We’re a long way from the all-clear. According to the announcements by Wien Energie and EVN, I expect an inflation rate of more than ten percent by September, and no later than April 2023.”

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘Tax Freedom Day’?

The latest estimate by Statistics Austria shows inflation was already at 9.2 percent in July, as reported by The Local.

This is in stark contrast to predictions made by the European Central Bank earlier this year when it was expected that inflation would fall in the second half of 2022.

How expensive could energy in Austria become?

WIFO expert Baumgartner based his forecast for Austria on wholesale electricity prices, which are currently 247 percent higher than in August 2021, reports ORF

Baumgartner said: “If the energy suppliers pass this on one-to-one, there is a risk of an enormous price increase.”

Additionally, Baumgartner expects prices for electricity and gas to go up by a further 50 percent in September, and was not optimistic that the planned nationwide electricity price cap will be enough to dampen energy prices.

READ MORE: Cost of living: How to save money on energy bills in Austria

He added that federal government intervention must go further to tackle gas and district heating prices.

On August 3rd, EVN and Wien Energie – both part of the Energieallianz Austria (EAA) group – announced they will be increasing energy prices from September.

EVN (which is mostly state-owned) blamed the move on price increases on the international wholesale markets.

According to ORF, Baumgartner believes these planned price increases will further impact the customer price index and push up inflation across Austria, even if the tariff changes only apply to customers in the east of the country.

SHOW COMMENTS