Information on endowments and bequests

Foundation's work, more precisely the work of our „Stiftung Seemannshilfe - Deutsche Evangelische Seemannsmission“ for the support of seafarers, requires considerable "stamina". The support of the Estonian seafarers' help offices in Paldiski and Muuga, and the continued development of facilities providing assistance to seamen, are commitments presenting long-term challenges.

There are various ways for you to help safeguard this work for the future and to improve its effectiveness.


Sustainable help in one's lifetime

Apart from one-time or recurring donations helping to foster our foundation's work as ring-fenced or non-specific donations, we would like to present different options for long-term support.


Endowment means contributing a donation into the foundation's assets. Like donations, endowments are also contributions without compensation, consisting of payments in cash or in kind. In contrast to a donation, the endowment is aimed at increasing the foundation's fixed assets and is intended for permanent use. By increasing the foundation's assets, your endowment enables the foundation to make higher distributions, and it is thus a particularly sustainable way of promoting our foundation's objective. The legislative authority has created special tax benefits to donors and endowing persons.

Foundation's fund

When erecting a foundation fund, it is legally possible to set up a special account to be maintained in the foundation „Seemannshilfe“. Among other things, the fund provides an opportunity to specifically promote a specific project of the foundation's work and to accumulate a higher amount for that purpose. The fund can be set up with a minimum contribution of 5,000 €. It may bear the name of the fund's founder. The fund does not have own institutions that are empowered to act on its behalf. If the fund is held in the foundation „Seemannshilfe“, it is not only managed financially but also included in the foundation's annual report, and the fund's founder will be informed accordingly at regular intervals.


In the case of a donation, the donor transfers free of charge tangible assets or rights to the donee, for example to the foundation „Seemannshilfe“. This constitutes a contract that requires notarial authorisation. If the formal requirements are not observed, this noncompliance with the required form can only be cured by „implementing“ the donation, for example by the process of physically transferring an object. The donation of land or buildings is always subject to notarisation. Similarly, the implementation of an entry into the land register would also require notarial authorisation.

A donation provides an opportunity to witness its use in the short term. Fiscal aspects may also be attractive. A donation to a charitable organisation such as the foundation „Seemannshilfe“ is not subject to gift tax, and will thus fully benefit the desired purpose. Moreover, the donation is tax-deductable as a charitable contribution, currently up to 20% of the overall personal income.

Donations may even be subject to one or several conditions that the foundation as a donee has to fulfil. Neither this option of the socalled „donation subject to conditions“ is liable to gift tax.

Donation inter vivos causa mortis

A special case are donations declared during lifetime but only effective upon death („Donation causa mortis“). In this case the account holder willing to make a donation concludes a contract with his bank in favour of a third party, for example the foundation. Upon the occurrence of death, the foundation acquires a claim against the bank for payment of the donation. This kind of donation is considered a legal transaction involving living persons and is not included in the deceased person's estate. Thus, the inheritance tax burden on the assets is reduced. This aspect is of particular importance if the legal succession is expected to entail only a limited deduction of tax allowances and thus a high level of inheritance tax imposed on the heirs. This shall also apply vice versa: If the beneficiary, in this case the foundation, already provided written confirmation of the acceptance, the heirs are not entitled to cancel the contract.

Protection of the donors

In case donors should encounter financial problems within ten years after the donation, they shall be entitled to reclaim the donation upon occurrence of the state of need. The donors are legally entitled to do so.


Helping even beyond death

Every person has the opportunity during lifetime to set out binding regulations to govern matters they consider particularly important. Apart from making dispositions as regards practical issues, there is also a possibility to bestow financial support on persons or organisations. This is assured by means of a last will, either written by oneself or recorded by the notary. Another form are contracts of inheritance, which are also subject to mandatory notarisation.

In case no other arrangement is made, the legal order of succesion of relatives is stipulated by law. Depending on the kinship to the deceased person, the law provides for different classifications. Different levels of tax allowances are applicable. Spouses are subject to a separate entitlement to inheritance of surviving spouse. In case there are neither spouse nor relatives, the state inherits. If you would rather bestow funds on a particular person or organisation, you need to make the corresponding arrangements.

Inheritance and legacy

Distinction must be made between the two types of monetary contribution pursuant to the law of succession. Whereas the designated heir or the statutory heir assumes the legal succession of the deceased including all rights and duties, the legatee acquires only a title against the heir for transfer of specific assets. Heir and legatee may be either a natural person or a charitable organisation such as Stiftung Seemannshilfe.

This means that the heir(s) will obtain the total assets, but that they are also liable for all liabilities and other obligations.

Upon accepting the bequest, the legatee acquires a claim against the heir for an asset or a sum of money.

When writing your last will, you will be in a position to designate the heir(s) and to stipulate legacies. You have the testamentary freedom to decide whether you wish to bequeath something to a particular person or an organisation, whether they are to be granted the status of an heir or the claim to a legacy, and in how far you want your disposition to comply with the legal order of succession.


Good deeds after careful examination

Although we as a foundation greatly appreciate your support, it is essential to us that your decision is consistent with your personal, family, and financial situation. We would therefore like to encourage you to take sufficient time to consult especially with experienced professionals specialising in tax-related and notarial matters. „Seemannshilfe“ is a cooperative member of the „Deutsche Interessengemeinschaft für Erbrecht und Vorsorge e.V. – DIGEV“ [German professional association for the law of succession and estate planning]. This organisation offers supporters of its cooperative's members an initial consultation free of charge on all issues concerning succession. Please contact us at any time for details on specific projects of our foundation and on the long-term focus of our work.


Sincerely yours,

Stiftung Seemannshilfe -Deutsche Evangelische Seemannsmission