Legacy Giving

The wild river Vjosa with its natural riverbanks flows through a wide valley The wild river Vjosa with its natural riverbanks flows through a wide valley
© Gregor Subic

A Will for Europe's Nature

An at-a-glance guide to legacy donation

Coming to terms with your own death is not an easy thing to do. So we are especially grateful to you for finding out about making a donation to EuroNatur in your will today.

By leaving an inheritance or a bequest to EuroNatur, you will be supporingt the long-term planning of our project activities to preserve Europe's natural treasures. Your assets will help us to preserve a Europe in which there are free-flowing rivers, unspoilt forests, diverse cultural landscapes and sufficient space for wild animals. Legacy donations create a valuable foundation for effective nature conservation, and with it, far-reaching perspectives for people and nature. What a tribute to life, what a powerful message beyond one's own death!

There is still a lack of decisive action in politics, the economy and society to initiate the necessary trend reversal towards a future worth living. This makes it all the more important to take countermeasures ourselves and help shape the world responsibly - and not only during our lifetime.

Here you will find a collection of information to get you started on the topic of "legacy donation for nature". You will also find contributions from others who share their approaches to active estate planning. We invite you to draw inspiration from this information so you can develop your own individual approach over time. For a personal discussion, Ms Günther is happy to help you by phone +49 7732 9272 17 or via email.

The information provided here relates to the situation in Germany.


Things you should know about inheritance

An assessment by lawyer Friederike Siegmann

"Through a will, we can make a difference beyond our individual lives and care for people and things that are important to us. This is not something that can be taken for granted, and is not the case in every legal system. You can make conscious use of this freedom to realise your own ideas.

My personal recommendation, based on my many years of counselling and litigation practice in inheritance matters, is: help to avoid disputes by formulating, or having your ideas formulated, in a legally clear and unambiguous manner. This will save the persons or institutions that you wish to benefit from your will from encountering problems, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a targeted difference with your assets in a way that makes sense for you and gives you pleasure."

Basic facts about estate planning and legacy donation

  • Legal succession: Do I need a will?

    In Germany, the Civil Code regulates who inherits in the event of death if there is no will. Legal succession takes into account only blood relatives, adopted children, spouses or the state.

    Anyone wishing to make a gift to a charitable organisation must do so by means of a will. Only with a will is the statutory regulation overridden. Excluded from this is the compulsory portion, to which spouses and registered partners, children, adopted children and parents are entitled. In complicated cases, legal or also tax advice (notary, lawyer, tax advisor) is recommended.

    You can find more information

  • What is the appropriate form for my will?

    The notarial will

    This is generally recommended. The notary knows exactly what to look out for and how to avoid ambiguities later on. A notarial will also saves heirs the expense of a certificate of inheritance in some cases. And the will cannot be lost if you deposit it with the probate court. Fees for depositing are low.

    The private will

    This is also possible, but the will must then be handwritten word for word and signed. It must also contain the place and date and be clearly recognisable as a will. The joint will of spouses must only be written by one person (also handwritten!), but signed by both parties and include the place and date.

    Attention! All heirs and other beneficiaries must be named with their full name and address so that they can be clearly identified. The place of safekeeping should be considered carefully to prevent the will from falling into unauthorised hands, and so it can be reliably located in the event of death. As this is difficult to achieve, it is recommended that private wills are also deposited with the probate court.

    For more information, see the second video on our "How do I write a will?" page.

    If you wish to include EuroNatur in your will, please use this designation:

    EuroNatur - Stiftung Europäisches Naturerbe
    Westendstraße 3
    78315 Radolfzell on Lake Constance

  • Inheritance or bequest? These sound similar, but they are not the same

    Inheritance (Erbe)

    In German inheritance law, the term "inheritance" (in the sense of "Erbe") refers to the entire legal position (assets) of a deceased person, i.e. the testator. The heir (or the community of heirs) is the universal legal successor. The heirs must also be liable for the deceased's estate liabilities.

    Bequest (Vermächtnis)

    A bequest (in the sense of "Vermächtnis") comprises precisely defined assets from the estate, for example where someone (a legatee) is to receive a certain sum of money, a savings contract, securities or other precisely and identifiably designated items without becoming an heir themselves. 

    For more information, see the first video on our "How do I write a will" page (in German).


  • Can I appoint several heirs or legatees?

    It is common for testators to divide their estate among several heirs and also to name legatees. Make sure that the wording is unambiguous so that the roles of heirs and legatees can be clearly distinguished.

    For more information, see the third video on our "How do I write a will" page (in German).

  • Inheritance calculator

    Preview image for the inheritance calculator of "Mein Erbe tut Gutes"

    The inheritance calculator from "Mein Erbe tut Gutes" can help you estimate your personal situation by showing you who is currently entitled to inherit and calculating their share of the inheritance. You can also find out how high the legitimate shares are and what amount you can freely dispose of. The inheritance calculator works without entering personal data, allowing you to remain anonymous.

    Go to the inheritance calculator (only in German)

  • Do I need an executor?

    Arranging for the will to be executed is recommended

    • if the assets to be inherited consist of various types, for example real estate, bank deposits, securities, participations, etc., or are wholly or partially located abroad;
    • and, above all, if you wish to appoint several heirs and/or wish to endow one or more persons with certain assets from the estate (bequests);
    • but also if, for example, you wish to attach conditions to the granting of inheritance.

    The executor must fulfil the wishes expressed in your will as faithfully as possible, and they are personally liable for this. Executors take possession of the estate, fulfil the bequests and ensure the permanent fulfilment of the conditions. They also distribute the estate to the heirs in accordance with your last will and testament, if necessary after prior realisation of individual assets.

    You can designate the person or persons who will act as executors of your will. In the interests of careful, prompt and responsible execution, it is advisable to appoint a legal or natural person who is legally competent and knowledgeable. This will also avoid incurring double costs for both the execution of the will and consultation of legal counsel.

    If you appoint EuroNatur as the executor of your will, such persons are available there in any case.

    Attention! If you wish to have your will executed, you should set out this instruction in the will itself. If you want to appoint a specific natural or legal person for this purpose, you should mention this person in a separate sentence. This is the only way to ensure your instruction will remain valid, even if the person named is no longer available for some reason.

  • How do I change my will?

    Changes to a will are possible at any time and require no justification - as long as you are not bound by regulations in a joint will or inheritance contract. In the case of a will made jointly by spouses, however, there may be dispute over whether it can be changed unilaterally. Therefore, the possibility of making changes the will should already have been regulated in the will.

    Attention! The most recent text is always valid. Nevertheless, in the event of changes, you should always have any wills that have already been officially deposited handed back to you.

    For more information, see the second video on our "How do I write a will" page (in German).

  • Does the state also inherit if I include EuroNatur in my will?

    No! As the EuroNatur Foundation is exempt from inheritance tax due to its non-profit status, inherited or bequeathed assets are used exclusively for the foundation's purpose without any tax deduction. This means that you can be sure that your legacy donation will go where it will make a difference. This applies to inheritances as well as bequests.

  • Aren't my assets too small for a legacy donation?

    You can effectively support the conservation of Europe's natural heritage with amounts as small as 1,000 or 2,000 euros from your estate. Every contribution counts - there is no minimum amount for making a bequest to a non-profit organisation like EuroNatur in your will. As EuroNatur has been recognised as a non-profit organisation by the tax office, our foundation is exempt from inheritance tax. Your legacy donation will be used in full to benefit cross-border nature conservation cooperation in Europe.

  • How do I write a will?

    You will find videos (in German) and texts with practical advice on your estate planning on our subpage.

EuroNatur - European Nature Heritage Foundation

We lead projects to protect endangered species and valuable habitats across Europe. We believe in the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. We cooperate across borders. We support people in their demand for change. Click on a picture to learn more.


We don't get any help from the governments, we have to see for ourselves how to finance our conservation activities. What I appreciate most is that you really come to us, talk to us and listen to us. EuroNatur does not say: 'Here is our concept, implement this', but you see our vision and help us to realise this vision. It's rare to find something like that.

Daniela Zaec Daniela Zaec from our North Macedonian partner organisation Macedonian Ecological Society has been working successfully with EuroNatur for many years.

Visible conservation successes

Since its foundation in 1987, EuroNatur has safeguarded a substantial amount of valuable natural habitats from destruction through purchase or lease. In more than 15 European countries we have made significant contributions to the establishment of large protected areas. These include numerous protected areas along the European Green Belt such as the Kemeri National Park in Latvia, the Danube-Drava National Park in Hungary, the Shar National Park in North Macedonia and the Prespa and Shebenik-Jablanica National Parks in Albania.

Our annual report gives you an up-to-date overview of our activities. Information on our mission and working methods can be found here.

Reliable and transparent

Click on an image to enlarge it. You will find detailed information on our transparency in our annual report.

We hold the “Erbschaftssiegel” - the Legacy Seal of Approval

the Legacy Seal of Approval

In 2020, the initiative “Mein Erbe tut Gutes” (My legacy can do good), an alliance of 23 renowned non-profit organisations, introduced an inheritance seal which is a mark of integrity and respectability in this sensitive area. EuroNatur is a holder of the seal and, like all the other organisations and foundations that are also seal-holders, is committed to the eleven guidelines, divided into the three sections:

  • Ensuring freedom of choice
  • Care and respect in dealing with your legacy
  • Ensuring compliance with all legal requirements and the highest levels of transparency

You can find out more at www.erbschaftssiegel.de  (available in German only).

I have the feeling that I am not just a number with EuroNatur and that regular debits take place. If I have questions, they are also answered. I don't have to hold back either with praise or with critical questions. In personal conversations I always had the feeling that Ms Günther or also Mr Schwaderer are committed to the cause, but also really interested in the people who support the foundation. With EuroNatur I find that little bit more that makes all the difference.

Regina Harten Regina Harten and her husband Rolf Harten have included EuroNatur in their will.

My legacy can do good - the Apple Tree Principle

EuroNatur has been a member of an initiative entitled “Mein Erbe tut Gutes - das Prinzip Apfelbaum” (My legacy can do good - the Apple Tree Principle) since January 2016. The initiative provides people who are considering leaving a legacy with advice and guidance on how to actively draft their will. It also shows how inheritances and bequests can sustainably safeguard the successful work of non-profit organisations.

What will remain of me when I am no longer here? Eleven well-known personalities including Günter Grass, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Richard von Weizsäcker and Margot Kässmann answer this question openly and frankly. The resulting short films formed part of an exhibition that recently toured Germany.

Eleven personalities on the question "What remains" - The apple tree principle

This video is in German language. You can use the captions and language settings in the lower right corner of the YouTube frame.

Screenshot of "11 Persönlichkeiten zur Frage Was bleibt" - Mein Erbe tut Gutes
By clicking on the preview image, a video from an external source is integrated. This will transfer your IP address to the external server. Further details can be found in our privacy policy.

Interview with the Schaads, legacy donors

Karin and Gerhard Schaad love nature and like to get active themselves to contribute to nature conservation. They have not doubted for a moment that it was the right decision to include EuroNatur in their will.

There are many projects worthy of support. Why did you decide to support nature conservation with your will? 

Karin Schaad: We have no first-degree heirs. Because we are great nature lovers, it was obvious to us that our inheritance should one day be used for nature conservation. We are part of nature, so this decision actually means a love of life and our legacy will benefit many people.

Karin and Gerhard Schaad
© privat
You have included EuroNatur in your will. Where does this great trust in the work of the foundation come from?

Karin Schaad: I think it is wonderful that EuroNatur makes sure that the people in the project areas can earn their living in a way that is compatible with nature. That they don't try to push through any nature reserves against the interests of the people. I also find the great transparency convincing: you can get to know everyone and also have a look at the areas. EuroNatur is so informal.

Gerhard Schaad: I feel the same way. The record of how the donations are used is convincing and the donor support is excellent. You can feel the commitment of the staff right up to the management. We notice that people stand behind their work. I also have great confidence in the way EuroNatur does business. I would not want to bequeath anything to someone who would use the inheritance to cover large administrative costs or fork out large salaries for the management.

Many people are put off by the very idea of writing a will because there are a lot of things to consider. Did you have support?

Karin Schaad: Years ago I once went to see a notary. He couldn't understand that I wanted to make a will for nature. Then he sent me a bill, even though nothing had happened yet. As a result, we preferred to deal with written information again ourselves, so that my husband and I could draw up a first draft. To be on the safe side, we asked EuroNatur for support and received the contact details of a lawyer. She gave us a few more recommendations so that there would be no ambiguities. For example, it must be defined who the main heir is. A short time later, we were able to deposit the will at the local court.

Do you sometimes feel powerless in the face of the destruction of nature that is taking place everywhere?

Gerhard Schaad: Yes, absolutely. From a global perspective, I don't have much hope that humanity will get its act together and be able to make up for what we have done with the way we live and do business in our civilisation. But I would simply feel bad not to continue supporting nature conservation, even if the means are limited. It is time to get involved in nature conservation if you have the opportunity.

Karin Schaad: I don't think I will see a fundamental change here either. But I would at least like to contribute to setting the course so that something of biodiversity remains.

What message do you associate with your legacy donation to EuroNatur?

Karin and Gerhard Schaad: Keep up the good work!

Interview: Katharina Grund

Your contact person for legacy donations

Sabine Günther
© Kerstin Sauer

EuroNatur Stiftung
Ms Sabine Günther
Westendstr. 3
78315 Radolfzell


Tel: +49 7732 9272 17