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  #41  
Old 02-05-2016, 08:07 AM
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Wills and inheritance though are subject to the courts, at least in Canada. I know of many families who thought they had iron-clad wills only for a judge to decide otherwise.

For non-reigning families, it will only take one human rights court somewhere to decide the house-rules for marriage violates someone's 'rights' and they whole thing gets blown-up.
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  #42  
Old 02-05-2016, 09:22 AM
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Most Houses claim nothing at all in terms of Government or so. Except being the continuation of the historic dynasty and often the considerable wealth which is attached to that.

The present Duke of Bavaria does not claim the kingship of Bavaria or something. He however is the head of the Royal House of Bavaria and as such he enjoys considerable privileges. For an example owning enormous historic collections, artworks, estates, having residence in various castles, like the mighty Schloss Nymphenburg (picture).

The present Fürst von Hohenzollern does not lay a claim on any state or something, not even on the throne of Romania. He however is the head of the Fürstliche House of Hohenzollern and as such he enjoys considerable privileges. For an example owning enormous historic collections, estates, having residence in various castles, including the famous Burg Hohenzollern (picture), co-owned with the Head of the other Hohenzollern House (Prussia).

So there is a LOT to claim.... when you disagree with someone else claiming to be the rightful heir and head of the House...

Totally agree with you on this!
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  #43  
Old 02-05-2016, 01:04 PM
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Wills and inheritance though are subject to the courts, at least in Canada. I know of many families who thought they had iron-clad wills only for a judge to decide otherwise.

For non-reigning families, it will only take one human rights court somewhere to decide the house-rules for marriage violates someone's 'rights' and they whole thing gets blown-up.
Actually Hohenzollerns, Leiningens and Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburgs have gone to Court to fight the requirements set in the Will. In all three cases the Courts have upheld these Wills. The clear aim of these conditions is to keep the centuries old House patrimonium together and at the disposal of the Head of the House, to avoid a break-up due to obligatory distribution and to avoid hefty taxes. The headship of the House is regulated by House Laws. Mostly this will be the most senior male agnate born in a legal marriage fullfilling the requirements who, on his turn, has made a legal marruage fullfilling the the same requirements and so procreates the historic dynasty.

When the position of the Head of the House (set by House Laws) is separated from the beneficiant of the Will (the eldest son, no matter he does not subject House Laws) then the risk is there that the Head of the House becomes separated from the House properties. An undesirable situation and the Courts agreed that provisions to keep the headship of the House and the House Patrimonium connected is not unlawful and not violating any human right.

To take it on Prince Gustav: there is no one who says he can not marry his Swedish girlffriend. No one. Of course, by neglecting the requirement he will risk that his cousin the Fürst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein will claim the magnificent castles, the historic properties and -not to forget- to add the 35.000 acres of forests owned by the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburgs to his own equally magnifique and impressive Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein estate... He can go to any Court and say he is in full compliance with the Will of the Prince Gustav's grandfather, having married Katharina, daughter of Maximilian Albert Hans Theodor Maria Graf von Podewils-Durniz and of Elisabeth Antonia Beatrix Marie Freiin von Hirschberg... and therefore will claim to be the Head of the two combined Houses and sole Heir of the enormous estate.
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  #44  
Old 02-05-2016, 01:33 PM
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I'm all for keeping everything together. In Britain, primogeniture and 'heirs male' remainders to peerages have kept estates, wealth and titles intact.

I just figured with non-reigning families in Europe it was different but its good to know the courts have upheld this area of house laws.

As for the 'equal' marriages requirement, I still maintain it would have to change if any of these families actually came back into power, but that's another debate I suppose
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  #45  
Old 02-05-2016, 01:36 PM
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If the will was written by Gustav's grandfather, why can't it be changed? I mean we aren't speaking about a thousand year old law or something needing parliamentary agreement.What is stopping Richard as the current head of the house from changing the will?

I don't see why they don't just give Carina a title. Surely Aunt Marge could be persuaded to name her a Countess. It wouldn't be the first time either. Richard's Uncle Heinrich was adopted by the childless head of another branch of the family. He married his adoptive father's niece (the daughter of his adoptive Uncle Georg). Georg's marriage was morganatic and his children therefore were, until the Prince of Lippe made Georg's wife a Baroness. Georg's brother (Heinrich's adopted father) removed the morganatic status of his nieces when this happened, allowing Heinrich's marriage to be considered dynastic. Surely Marge or some other royal could do the same for Carina as done for Georg's wife or like the Swede princes made Counts of Wisborg by the Luxes.
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  #46  
Old 02-05-2016, 01:45 PM
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I would like to stress that modern law courts in Germany do not bother about those obsolete house laws. House laws have nothing to do with the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany, and it is totally up the families whether they follow their old rules or not. Also the modern state does not care if the patrimonium of the noble families stays with the heads of the houses or not. That's up to the families, too.

The law suits of the Prussian or Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg families were about the wills of individual persons. That's a different thing. E.g. the late Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia choose set up a will that complied with the old house law. It's the will that is will that the courts would scrutinize, and the courts wouldn't care if the will complies with the house law or not. Had Louis Ferdinand chosen to set up a will that didn't comply with the house law, than it would have been just as valid.

The same goes for the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg family. Prince Gustav's grandfather set up a will that specified requirements for the marriage of the heir.
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  #47  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tilia C. View Post
I would like to stress that modern law courts in Germany do not bother about those obsolete house laws. House laws have nothing to do with the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany, and it is totally up the families whether they follow their old rules or not. Also the modern state does not care if the patrimonium of the noble families stays with the heads of the houses or not. That's up to the families, too.

The law suits of the Prussian or Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg families were about the wills of individual persons. That's a different thing. E.g. the late Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia choose set up a will that complied with the old house law. It's the will that is will that the courts would scrutinize, and the courts wouldn't care if the will complies with the house law or not. Had Louis Ferdinand chosen to set up a will that didn't comply with the house law, than it would have been just as valid.

The same goes for the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg family. Prince Gustav's grandfather set up a will that specified requirements for the marriage of the heir.
So my question stands, why doesn't Richard just change the will? It was his father's will. Is Richard not entitled to his own under German law? Or is he less accepting of Carina than the family seems to be? She seems well accepted by the family. You would think you'd want the family estate to remain in their line.

I mean if he and Carina didn't have children even if married, couldn't he simply name one of his nephews heir?
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  #48  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:12 PM
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If the will was written by Gustav's grandfather, why can't it be changed? I mean we aren't speaking about a thousand year old law or something needing parliamentary agreement.What is stopping Richard as the current head of the house from changing the will? [...]
Prince Gustav's grandfather (who was missed-in-action during battle in WWII) has made his grandson his Heir. Meaning that his son was bypassed. This was just to avoid hefty succession taxes. The properties are already owned by his grandson -as long as he subjects to the conditions- but his son, the present Fürst, executes the ownership rights.

When the grandson of the missing Fürst was born in 1969, his spouse the Fürstin, Princess Margaretha zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg born Countess Fouché d'Otrante went to the Court of Justice and requested a formal declaration of death. After this formal declaration, the Will was executed: the youngborn grandson became the owner and the Dowager Fürstin handed all affairs of the House to her son, Prince Richard. This situation is still actual: Prince Gustav is the owner and his father, the Fürst, executes the ownership rights.

Prince Gustav, once he has become the Head of the House, he can draft a new Will but then Carina will be in her Fifties and it is unlikely they will ever marry with a procreation of the dynasty in their line.
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  #49  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:18 PM
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So my question stands, why doesn't Richard just change the will? It was his father's will. Is Richard not entitled to his own under German law? Or is he less accepting of Carina than the family seems to be? She seems well accepted by the family. You would think you'd want the family estate to remain in their line.

I mean if he and Carina didn't have children even if married, couldn't he simply name one of his nephews heir?
Prince Richard can't change the will because his father left everything to the 'eldest son of this eldest son, if...' So Prince Gustav would be the direct heir of his late grandfather, if he complied with the requirements. That means that Prince Richard doesn't own the partimonium, he just holds it as a kind of custidian. Sorry, but I don't know all the details, it must be a complicated case for the lawyers.

The reason for this strange will was to minimize inheritance tax. Each heir has to pay tax, but if you skip a generation, that means also that the skipped generation doesn't have to pay tax.
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  #50  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:21 PM
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[...]

I mean if he and Carina didn't have children even if married, couldn't he simply name one of his nephews heir?
His nephews, you mean Count Richard von Pfeil und Klein Ellguth (son of his sister Princess Alexandra) for an example?

That is possible but this will also mean that the centuries old patrimonium of the House Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, for an example the magnificent Schloss (see picture) will come in the hands of the family Von Pfeil und Klein Ellguth then, while there are direct male Berleburg relatives around. It will depend very much on the wordings of the various family foundations and trusts if it is possible that it all disappears out of the family...
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  #51  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:35 PM
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I'm not sure if Prince Gustav actually is fully legal owner of the estate. His grandfather's will said that he should inherit if he fulfills the requirements. Doesn't that mean that he can't inherit until he fulfills them? So that would mean that there isn't an owner at the moment, just a custodian? If that is the case, the inheritance will go to the son of Prince Robin's son Prince Sebastian.
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  #52  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:38 PM
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I don't think the requirement for him to inherit includes him being married. Didn't he inherit the estate when he was a baby??


I don't get why Robin and his son are eligible to inherit. Shouldn't they be held to the same requirements as Gustav? Neither Robin or his son have made dynastic marriages.
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  #53  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:53 PM
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I don't know how it actually works. But if he already had fully inherited the estate, how could he lose it again in the case of marriages? If he were the full legal owner, how somebody take it away in the case of marriage?

It is puzzling, but I not sure that the inheritance is already accomplished.
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  #54  
Old 02-05-2016, 02:57 PM
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I don't think the requirement for him to inherit includes him being married. Didn't he inherit the estate when he was a baby??


I don't get why Robin and his son are eligible to inherit. Shouldn't they be held to the same requirements as Gustav? Neither Robin or his son have made dynastic marriages.
They are not heirs according the Will. Prince Gustav's cousin Prince Bernhart is the next eligible male when we apply the conditions.

1 Prince Gustav (1969)
Son of Prince Richard, 6th Fürst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg
and of Princess Benedikte of Denmark

2 Prince Bernhart (1962)
Son of Prince Christian Heinrich, 5th Fürst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
and of Christina Gräfin von Leiningen-Westerburg (Alt-Leiningen)

3 Prince Wenzel (1997)

Son of Prince Bernhart, 6th Fürst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
and of Katharina Gräfin von Podewils-Dürniz
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  #55  
Old 02-05-2016, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Countessmeout View Post
I don't think the requirement for him to inherit includes him being married. Didn't he inherit the estate when he was a baby??


I don't get why Robin and his son are eligible to inherit. Shouldn't they be held to the same requirements as Gustav? Neither Robin or his son have made dynastic marriages.

It depends on who is included in the Will. And that is not known.
In the prussian Case Emperor Wilhelm II. required his heir (Louis Ferdinand) and his heirs Heir to marry equal. As Frioedrich Wilhelm and Michael did not marry equally and had to renouce their rights their brother Louis Ferdinand became the heir but as he died before his father his son Georg Friedrich became the Heir of Prince Louis Ferdinand.
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  #56  
Old 02-05-2016, 03:06 PM
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I don't know how it actually works. But if he already had fully inherited the estate, how could he lose it again in the case of marriages? If he were the full legal owner, how somebody take it away in the case of marriage?

It is puzzling, but I not sure that the inheritance is already accomplished.
When Prince Gustav was born in 1969, his grandmother Princess Margaretha requested her spouse, at that moment "missing in action" since 1944, to be declared dead. After this official declaration, the Will was executed. The youngborn grandson inherited all but his father had the execution of the ownership rights.

The current Crown Domains in the Netherlands have been donated to the State by Queen Wilhelmina but the ownership rights are executed by the Bearer of the Crown. This means that the State is the owner but that the King holds the rights to enjoy an income from the domains, has the hunting rights, etc.

The construction of Prince Gustav being the owner but his father enjoying the ownership rights seem similar to that arrangement. Very complicated indeed.
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Old 02-05-2016, 03:14 PM
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It depends on who is included in the Will. And that is not known.
In the prussian Case Emperor Wilhelm II. required his heir (Louis Ferdinand) and his heirs Heir to marry equal. As Frioedrich Wilhelm and Michael did not marry equally and had to renouce their rights their brother Louis Ferdinand became the heir but as he died before his father his son Georg Friedrich became the Heir of Prince Louis Ferdinand.
Okay, this is what I'm wondering. Today in 2016, German law allows for the head of a family to stipulate that people must marry 'equally' in order to inherit?

I don't really know anything about the law but it seems like an area where judges would be keen to jump in and rule it violates human rights or something. Its interesting to me
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  #58  
Old 02-05-2016, 03:25 PM
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It depends on who is included in the Will. And that is not known.
In the prussian Case Emperor Wilhelm II. required his heir (Louis Ferdinand) and his heirs Heir to marry equal. As Frioedrich Wilhelm and Michael did not marry equally and had to renouce their rights their brother Louis Ferdinand became the heir but as he died before his father his son Georg Friedrich became the Heir of Prince Louis Ferdinand.
I have once read an article where it was explained. The court has ruled that it is not according to the law to set up inheritance rules that go on for endless generations. Such a house law could easily be challenged in a modern law court. But every owner has the legal right to set up a will themselves, and that is what Prince Louis Ferdinand did. Louis Ferdinand wanted to comply with the house law and therefore named Georg Friedrich as his principal heir. They called it 'Testierfreiheit', the freedom to set up a will.
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:35 PM
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If we apply these laws to current reigning monarchs, is it only Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh who married 'equally'? Morganatic marriage doesn't apply in Britain but I'm just curious
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:53 PM
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No, morganatic marriage has never applied to British royals. For a long time the British also arranged marriages with foreign royal houses, but that was no legal requirement. It was mainly done for political reasons. Queen Mary was not considered as a equal match by those houses who followed the salic law. But Queen Victoria didn't have to bother with that, so she arrange a marriage with Princess May of Teck.
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