We feel confident in our abilities to offer you expert advice in the below areas of Law:
I. Inheritance Law
The law firm of Stefan Mannheim is experienced in legal counseling and litigation for foreigners and testator's surviving dependents abroad. We have also handled many successions involving assets in various different countries. We can help you with your estate planning documents, draft your last will and testament or codicil and represent you in court and German tax offices. Also we help you with drafting an individual healthcare directive and power of attorney.
Major differences between German and Anglo-American inheritance laws are to be expected in estate administration proceedings. For example, German law provides that the heir or the community of co-heirs take possession of and administer the estate. There is generally no appointed public administrator as it is the case in some probate cases in Anglo-American jurisdictions. This also means that an heir can be held liable for the testator’s debts. A concrete example of this rule would be the following: if you are named as an heir, the testator’s creditors may demand that you pay for the deceased person’s debts and liabilities. There are however ways to avoid such a situation. There are proceedings that allow an heir to request assistance with the administration or file for bankruptcy on behalf of the estate. If a person is named an heir but does not want to assume such functions, the inheritance can be renounced; if an heir does not explicitly renounce the inheritance within a certain period of time, in German language and in the proper form, he or she will be named as an heir.
Stefan Mannheim looks back at years of experience in assisting clients from all over the world to settle the estate of a deceased in Germany and to understand German law. Also, he has a lot of expertise in handling assets in different countries, such as Swiss bank accounts, vacation homes abroad, etc. This experience, combined with his work experience in California during his legal education, will be helpful for clients who seek professional advise on a cross-border estate.
For the use in many English speaking countries, we can notarize your signature, certify copies of documents and help with certified identity confirmation.
II. Business Law
We advise and represent clients in the following areas of business law:
A.) Company/Corporate Law
We help help entrepeneurs find the best legal form for their business in Germany and assist with drafting the articles of incorporation. We also represent companies in legal disputes.
When an entrepreneur retires, it is essential to have professional plans and documents for succession in the business. But not only the transfer from the retiring owner to the successor shall be taken into consideration - it is important for every business to have ’emergency plans‘ for the possibility of an unexpected (physical) incapacity or death of the owner. We assist to find the best-fitting company powers of attorney, estate documents and company by-laws to avoid serious effects from a stroke of fate.
B.) Intellectual Property
Intellectual property law ensures that you reap the fruits of your creativeness and is there to protect you from persons infringing upon that property right. There are various kinds of German intellectual property laws: trademarks, designs, patents, and copyrights.
A trademark is a sign that serves to distinguish the goods and services of one company from those of another. A trademark can be one or several words, a logo, or another distinctive feature that can be represented graphically. It can consist of the shape, packaging, sound, or smell of a good.
A design is the outward appearance of a product or part of it, resulting from its lines, contours, colors, shapes, textures, materials, and/or ornamentation.
We represent you in filing an application for registration of a German or European Union trademark or design. This ensures that you have the exclusive right to use the trademark or design in the countries where it is registered. For example, you can prevent others from using a logo that is identical to yours or bears a striking resemblance. Many trademarks and registered designs are used for granting licenses in exchange for royalties.
A copyright is created without a copyright notice. If a text, photography, painting, sculpture, melody, or tune has a certain depth of creativity, the authors or artists automatically have the copyright for it. They can will the copyright to their heirs. The person who has the copyright for a work can sell the right of use. It is essential to formulate the contract carefully and professionally, which requires the knowledge of an experienced attorney. We will be happy to assist you.
C.) Fair Competition
We provide counseling to companies in the field of fair competition law to help them avoid conflicts with competitors. When there is a dispute regarding the fairness of a trade measure, we try to avoid a lawsuit and, if this is not possible, represent you in court.
III. Labor / Employment Law
Our firm is dedicated to representing and advising both employees and employers (businesses) in labor and employment law matters. We review and negotiate employment agreements, benefits packages, and severance agreements. We also provide guidance with formal disciplinary procedures, termination and the German ‘works council’*
*Under German law, a company may have an employee representative committee [Betriebsrat], if at least five employees vote for it. This works council essentially represents the employees collectively and are concerned with decisions that affect everyone- such as hiring, termination, changes to working times etc. They have rights and must be consulted before management makes work or employment decisions.