Liability for German pension in English estate

We act for the executors of Sally, who died in 2016 domiciled in England and Wales.

Tom died in 2003. Dick died in 2015. We believe that they were both domiciled in Germany.

Sally received a letter (after her death) from the German pension provider, claiming that they had made an overpayment to Tom, and that as a beneficiary of Tom’s estate, Sally was liable for the repayment. It seems as if under German law the beneficiaries of an estate inherit the liabilities as well as the assets.

Subsequent correspondence from the German pension provider states that Sally was actually liable as a beneficiary of Dick’s estate, not Tom’s. We are not aware of any chain of representation that would make Sally’s estate liable and we have not seen any evidence that Sally was even the beneficiary of either Tom or Dick. It may be, and again we do not know for sure, that Tom’s estate went to Dick, and then Dick’s went to Sally.


  1. What is the limitation period in Germany for the pension provider to claim against Sally’s estate?
  2. Given that Sally had no assets in Germany, is any claim in Germany enforceable against Sally’s English estate?

Eddie Bell
McMillan Williams