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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Cost of living: Rent prices rise in Austria as fuel costs drop

Inflation continues to hit Austrian households with rent rising at the fastest level for almost two decades. Meanwhile, the cost of fuel dropped in November.

Cost of living: Rent prices rise in Austria as fuel costs drop

Rent prices in Austria have risen at the fastest rate since quarterly figures were introduced in 2004, according to the latest data from Statistics Austria.

In the third quarter of 2022, the average price for rent (including operating costs) rose to €8.8 per square metre per month. This was 3.1 percent higher than in the second quarter and seven percent higher when compared with the same period in 2021.

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But the highest increase in rent was in municipal housing where costs rose by 3.8 percent to hit €7.5 per square metre. 

The Statistics Austria report found the average operating costs in Austria to be €153.3 per apartment or €2.3 per square metre. In the same period in 2021, the average operating costs were €145.7 or €2.2 per square metre.

Meanwhile, the ÖAMTC has revealed that the price of fuel in Austria decreased in November (when compared with prices in October).

READ ALSO: Austria to seize cars from illegal road racers

The price of a litre of premium petrol fell by 8 cents to an average of €1.678, and the cost of diesel dropped by 13 cents to €1.905 per litre. The ÖAMTC is Austria’s mobility and motorist club. 

The price comparison took place before the EU introduced a price cap on Russian oil on Monday December 5, but the ÖAMTC is expecting limited impacts on the cost of fuel in Austria, reports Kurier.