Codex of honour


This codex of honour is the basis and self-image for a truthful and collegial cooperation. It has proved a recipe for professionalism and reliability of association members' activity.

On condition of this codex of honour the association members obligated themselves to no acts or omissions which go directly against the legal system of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Table of content

1. Area of validity
2. Prohibition of unfair business methods
3. Minimum standard of heir finding
4. Fee composition
5. Privacy


1.    Area of validity

The following provisions of the codex of honour are obligatory for all members of the association as well as for employed genealogists and free lanced genealogical workers of the members.

2.    Prohibition of unfair business methods

Unfair business methods which offend against the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany and are suitable to influence the competition for the disadvantage of competitors, employees, the consumers, or other market participants, are inadmissible.

a)     Behavior towards public authorities

By information request at public authorities and other institutions the provisions of discretion and privacy have to be respected. Investigating activities under injury of (penalty-) juridical provisions, e.g., document forgery or pretense of a not existing in truth legitimization, are a serious offense against the codex of honour.

In cases appearing, legal, official or judicial objections and obstractions during the work as well as essential differences of opinions between the afore-mentioend authorities and the member, the member represents his rights with firmness, however, in objective and adequate form. If necessary the action is to coordinate with the board and other members.

The members inform regularly the administrators/curators of estate or other third parties about the fact of matter to provided by them cases.

In personal and written correspondence with authorities and courts the members keep objective and adequate manners.

In branch specific media publications the members have to take the association's interests into consideration.

b)     Behavior towards the members and the board

The members are obligated to observe the provisions of the competition law and to omit from activities which contradict the good business customs or offend against the integrity. Advertising by a member is not allowed to be misleading, wrong or overdone.

The members undertake to keep to contractual agreements which they have freely negotiated within the scope of the valid laws.

In the scope of a collegial cooperation in estate cases, which were handled by several heir finding companies, the members undertake to coordinate the receipt of proofs of inheritance in order to speedup the settlement of the estate.

The members are obligated to inform the board about civil disputes araising out of their work as heir finder as well as decisions which bother directly the interests of the professional group.

The members undertake to find a solution to conflicts and differences within the scope of their work with the help of the association/board before a public court will be appealed.

The members undertake to ensure confidentiality and discretion about planned activities and interna of the association.

Each member should take care that other members do not infringe the codex of honour. If one of them thinks, that the other member infringes the codex of honour, so he is to point him towards this. If this will be unsuccessful the board of the association should be informed, which will perform a corresponding examination procedure and call in an expert other members possibly.

c)     Behavior towards the heirs

Unfairly acts who bothers in an unreasonable way heirs or other market participants.

Business conditions, contracts or fee agreements which offend against legal regulations as well as against the principles of faithfully and belief or the good customs are inadmissible.

If a member has closed a contractual agreement with a pretendent to an estate, so is he/she bounded to this agreement and will promote the case within the scope of an objective and juridical possibility and settle the case successfully. If necessary the member should ask for assistance of the other members. A refrain from the case comes into question only then, when hopelessness is recognizable, juridical or actual impossibility or as far as the settling of the estate matter turns out as absolutely uneconomical in the result of the running process or when the confidence with the possible heir is destroyed or in his/her accord.

An instruction of the heir does not justify an offense against the code of honour.

The members undertake to reproduce in full their research results for a heir's affidavit in order to initiate the proceedings of inheritance.

A prudent businessman disposes third-party funds with care and in presence of corresponding conditions he balances the accounts with the benefitetd heir immediately.

3.    Minimum standard of heir finding

The member has to conduct the heir finding in connection with best knowledge and skill conscientiously and sincere considering the relevant legal provisions. The member is refrained to do all, what demages the image and the interstes of the professional group of heir finders.

The member has to improve constantly himself and keep attention to issued legal changements, administration of justice concerning succession law and professional literature.

In his appearance and his occupational work the member has to omit from the appearance of official and/or sovereign functions.

Co-operating with correspondents at home and abroad, with lawyers and other authorities the member has to let prevail with its choice and make regularly sure himself about their dependability in an adequate frame.

4.    Fee composition

As a rule the members become active on the basis of a contingency fee agreement closed with the heirs.

It is inadmissible to require excessive fees of the traced heirs or agree fees under pretense of wrong facts.

Excessive fees do not exist, if under adequate consideration of the estate value they do not exceed 30% of the net estate (plus value added tax) with finding activities at home. In cases involving a foreign element or foreign estate cases there is a higher percentages possible.

5.    Privacy

The members undertake to follow the relevant legal provisions of privacy and improve themselves in this matter. Each member has the obligated of secrecy about the individual-related results of his activity and keep information in confidence.

Berlin, 29th December, 2010

Verband Deutscher Erbenermittler (VDEE®) e.V. • Kyffhäuserstr. 11 • 10781 Berlin
Tel.: 030 - 246 251 62 • Fax: 030 - 246 251 63 • E-Mail: