Failure of the leadership

Scenarios of sudden entrepreneurial succession

Succession arrangements at the top of companies are often well planned, especially in medium-sized businesses. However, accidents, illness or death can put a spanner in the works. In the following article, lawyer Dr. Johannes Fiala has therefore dealt with suitable written solutions, but above all with corresponding scenarios.

The author assumes that the existence of more than 35,000 companies in Germany ends every year as a result of insolvencies, which are also triggered accordingly; and this without effective asset protection in the pension scheme.


The concrete help and reasons for this can be of a very different nature:

Written documents A living will, for example, should be mentioned among the relevant documents; powers of attorney to make provisions for the business and private spheres also belong in this context. Particularities apply when dealing with banks that do not accept any form template. If the possibility of borrowing is to be given, special formal requirements must also be observed. These also apply in particular to an effective will. If nothing is settled, it can take months before a so-called guardian is appointed – and by then considerable damage can already be done to the assets. And in the case of a will, the mere fact that it was written on a typewriter can lead to the creation, upon death, of a community of heirs who can decide on anything and everything only jointly.

Foreign assets Things get particularly tricky when assets abroad come into play. This often involves not only tax issues but also, above all, the question of which law of succession is applicable so that the last will and testament can take effect. In the event of death, it is certainly possible to massively simplify the corresponding procedures – but only if you have thought about it beforehand.

Minor child It happens that the wife becomes the heiress and after the death of the child, she sells everything in silver – even before anyone is interested in the surviving children and their compulsory share. If the heiress invests the assets poorly or makes losses, the child will end up with nothing, even before a compulsory portion of the estate has been settled and invested in a gilt-edged manner.

Disputed family Wills can lead to years of litigation – especially when the family disagrees. Trust solutions at home and abroad, but also execution of wills as well as family foundations can provide relief in such situations.


by Dr. Johannes Fiala

by courtesy of (published in Stahlreport, issue 10/2008, page 19)

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About the author

Dr. Johannes Fiala Dr. Johannes Fiala

Dr. Johannes Fiala has been working for more than 25 years as a lawyer and attorney with his own law firm in Munich. He is intensively involved in real estate, financial law, tax and insurance law. The numerous stages of his professional career enable him to provide his clients with comprehensive advice and to act as a lawyer in the event of disputes.
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