The applicant, G. M., was born in 1940 and lives in Bayreuth (Germany). The case concerns her complaint that she could not assert her inheritance rights after her father’s death in 2009, as she had been born out of wedlock and before a cut-off point provided for by legislation in force at the time. Notably, children born outside marriage before 1 July 1949 were excluded from any statutory entitlement to inherit and from the right to financial compensation.
Ms M. is the natural and only daughter of her father, who recognised paternity in 1951. She lived in the former German Democratic Republic until 1984, while her father lived in the Federal Republic of Germany with his wife. Ms M. and her father corresponded regularly during that period and she visited him and his wife every year between 1954 and 1959. After moving to Bavaria in 1984 with her husband and daughter, she visited her father regularly until 2007. He died in 2009.
In January 2009, directly after her father’s death, Ms M. applied to the Memmingen District Court for the right to administer her father’s estate. She asserted that she needed this power as her father’s wife had dementia, and that she was a statutory heir. The court dismissed her application. As Ms M. had been born before 1 July 1949, she was excluded under section 12(10)(2) of the Children Born outside Marriage (Legal Status) Act from any statutory entitlement to her father’s estate and from the right to financial compensation. Nor was she entitled to receive any copies of documents about the estate.
On appeal, the Memmingen Regional Court refused to grant her the power to administer her father’s estate. The court referred to the relevant provision of the Children Born outside Marriage (Legal Status) Act and case-law of the Federal Constitutional Court finding that provision in conformity with the German constitution. The Munich Court of Appeal dismissed Ms M.’s appeal in May 2009 on the grounds that it was bound by the decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court which had found this provision to be valid.
Ms M. was also unsuccessful in her constitutional appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court. The court declared her compliant inadmissible for lack of substantiation, holding that Ms M. should have given further reasons to contest the validity of the relevant provision, but that she had failed to do so.
Relying on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Ms M. complains that section 12(10)(2) of the Children Born outside Marriage (Legal Status) Act resulted in her being unable to assert her inheritance rights and was discriminatory.
EGMR, Pressemitteilung Nr. 51 v. 03.02.2017