Tsunami Victims – Implications at Home

Natural disasters are with any question horrible. What are the implications at home, in Germany, when you loose somebody in the area of a catastrophe?  This  article  discusses two different scenarios: 1st)  loss of  a relative, and 2nd) loss of an employer.


1st Situation: Lost Single Earner

Imagine a happy family in Germany, Sandra, the family’s single earner, Harry her stay-at-home husband, and two lovely kids Jack and Jill. What happens if Sandra has gone missing in Indonesia? How long will she continue to receive her salary?

Sandra will receive her normal salary at least until the end of her vacation time. After that period she is generally not entitled to her salary because she is not fulfilling her part of the employment contract: working for the employer. If the boss is a nice guy, he might continue to pay but you cannot demand payment. Maybe he will show some kind of grace, but that is exclusively a personal decision. “What about unemployment benefits? “ Jill pipes in. Nope, they do not apply because Sandra is not unemployed, only missing. So if the family has no financial reserves, Harry will have to start looking for a job. The family will certainly receive welfare benefits for an interim period.

Jack raises the question: “What about the life insurance upon her death?” Well, that is something a bit more complicated. The life insurance must pay as soon as it proven that Sandra has died. By law, Sandra is only missing so far and not dead (§10 Verschollenheitsgesetz). Since Sandra was supposedly hit by a tsunami wave, German law will assume her death after one year of her being missing (§7 Verschollenheitsgesetz) and after application to initiate the “Aufgebotsverfahren (judicial call procedure)”. In other words, do not wait too long to have real certainty about whether Sandra is really dead or not. Let us hope that she will be found a couple of days after the judicial call procedure was initiated. In that case, you will have to report this to the office and the case will be closed. This procedure will not infringe upon any of Sandra’s rights. Well, Harry you should go and find an attorney you trust to help you and initiate the judicial call. Most relatives and other persons who have a legal interest may also apply for this procedure. If you are needy, you are entitled to legal aid. You might have a chance. The General Association of the German Insurance Industry has promised to exercise leniency on the requirements for cashing in on the life insurance in the case of tsunami victims. In any case, you will need some kind of official document proclaiming her death.

How about the bank account? It is only on her name. In this case, you will need a curatorship to deal with this problem After appointment, the curator will receive power of attorney over the account and can hand out the money. However , Harry, the curator may not just empty the account, hand you all the funds and close the account. Yes, he will and must pay what is necessary. He might grant you joint-ownership of that account and if so, his job is not over. Being a representative of Sandra’s interests, the curator’s job will end upon her death. A curator will be appointed by the AG having jurisdiction.

2nd situation: Lost Employer

George, who runs his own consultancy business, has an employee, Jeff. George has not returned from his business trip to Thailand, and Jeff wants to know what will happen now.

This is another very tragic situation. Supposing George has established a standing order, Jeff will receive his salary as long as the account is positive or until the credit line has been exhausted. In this case, too, a curator should be appointed to manage everything. Do not forget, as long as George has not been declared dead, the law considers him to be alive! Supposing the curator cannot fulfill George’s orders, he will have to find a subcontractor to get the work done. Jeff, as an employee, has a legal interest in initiating the above-mentioned judicial call procedure.

Published on the old CMS: 2007/1/3
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 317 reads

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