Official Certified Translation of Foreign Birth Records

German to English Translation of Birth Certificate

Certified official Apostille translation of foreign birth records plays an important role in probate litigation and other court proceedings. Today’s case brings us to to the matter of the Estate of Herzog from the Court of Appeals of California. Lieselotte A. Herzog died intestate, without a will. Subsequently, her nephew was appointed to be the administrator, responsible for handling her estate. A law firm specializing in locating heirs was able to get hold of Maurene Schraff Nadj who claimed to be the half sister of the deceased. She, thereafter, petitioned the court to be deemed the half sister, and, thereby, the sole heir of the deceased.

The probate court, however, denied Ms. Nadj’s petition, for insufficient evidence. Ms. Nadj had presented evidence trying to prove that she was the half sister of the deceased. She presented an exhibit, a document translated from German to English. This document showed that a man by the name of Franz Schraff married Wilhelmina Keßler, and together they had a daughter, the deceased. The document further showed that Franz Schraff then married Lina Beck. Another document, also translated from German to English, showed that Franz Schraff and Lina Beck then had a child, Lieselotte A. Herzog’s half sister.

German Birth Certificates and Their English Translations Submitted as Second Exhibit

A second exhibit contained birth certificates of the decedent, as well as the half sister. These documents were in German, and were accompanied by their English translations. The purpose of these documents was to prove that Maurene Schraff Nadj is the half sister of the decedent and, therefore, an heir. However, the Court did not accept the German-language birth certificates, reasoning that the records were not certified.

The petitioner then appealed this decision. The petitioner argued that both birth certificates have the official German stamp on them. However, the “official stamp” referred to by the petitioner were signatures by individuals named “Pish” and “Beer”, and some sort of stamp. The Court ruled that these records were not sufficiently certified, and, therefore, cannot be accepted. The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court and reasoned that the identities of “Pish” and “Beer” had not been established and that it was not even known whether they even were government officials. The appellate court reasoned that since it had not been established that the German birth certificates were signed by a German government official, they were not certified, and, hence, not acceptable, under California law.

Legal Argument Citing The Apostille Convention, Also Known as the Apostille Treaty.

The petitioner also argued that the California law, under consideration here, is superseded by the Hague Public Documents Convention, which does not require legalization of documents. The official name of this convention is The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille Convention, or the Apostille Treaty.

Legalization, in this context, refers to the practice wherein diplomatic/ consular agents from the country where the relevant document originates certify the document. It was argued that since both Germany and the United States are signatories to the Hague Apostille Convention, no legalization of the documents is required here. However, the court noted that, despite the aforesaid, the Convention does stipulate that “The only formality that may be required in order to certify the authenticity of the signature… is the addition of the certificate… issued by the competent authority of the State from which the document emanates.” The Court noted that the petitioner has failed to meet this requirement by failing to obtain an Apostille certificate for each of the German birth certificates.

Official Certified English Translation of Apostilled German Birth Records

This ruling was in line with the argument presented by the deceased’s nephew who had argued that the documents presented by the petitioner were not official records of the Republic of Germany, did not have any official certification, and did not include an official German to English translation.

The petitioner could have avoided this situation by engaging in more due diligence. In this case the petitioner should have sought an official English translation of the foreign birth records in question. The petitioner should have obtained Apostilles for each German birth certificate from Germany, and should have contacted a U.S.-based legal translation service to obtain certified English translation for the Apostilled German birth certificates.

All Language Alliance, Inc. provides certified translation and apostille services for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. Contact us to obtain official German to English translation services for Apostilled German civil documents, such as such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, etc. to be used in U.S. courts. We also provide apostille and certified English to German translations of vital records and other U.S. legal documents to be used in Germany, as well as certified translations of birth certificates and death certificates issued in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) that are written in Sinhala, or in Tamil; certified translation of Vietnamese, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Turkish, French, Malay, Mongolian birth certificates.

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