What are your options?

A will

When someone dies without making a will, succession is governed by law (Civil Code). You can make a will if you would like to make other arrangements and, in particular, if you want to favour or exclude certain people, within the limits of what is permitted by the law, or to provide for a different division of your estate. However, some legal heirs (such as children) cannot be completely disinherited. 

Contact your notary to find out more.


Marriage Contract

When a person dies, the extent of his or her estate must be established. If the person was married, first of all the matrimonial property arrangements of the couple must be liquidated. The various terms and conditions governing this have a considerable impact on the make-up of the estate. It is actually possible, via a judicious choice of marriage contract, to make considerable transfers of net assets.

Contact your notary to find out more.

Gift by delivery, gift by transfer and donation (conditional or not)

When you die, your heirs will have to pay death duties on the assets you leave them. The rates of these death duties are progressive, that is to say, they increase with the amount of the estate bequeathed and in accordance with the family relationship between the deceased and the heirs. The amount of the death duties payable can be considerable.

However, anything you give during your life will not form part of your estate on death and thus death duties will not, as a rule, be due on such gifts. A gift, accordingly, can generate sizeable tax savings in terms of death duties. There are, however, exceptions to this principle. For example, if a gift is not registered and the donor dies within three years of giving it, the donation concerned is included in the estate. Furthermore, certain registered gifts made in the three years before the death of the donor are notionally included in the estate, for the sole purpose of determining the rate of death duties applicable to the assets actually included in the estate (this is known as the "réserve de progressivité" or "progressievoorbehoud").

There are various techniques for giving gifts of movable property (e.g. money and securities) and real-estate assets.

A gift can also be subject to a condition, i.e. an obligation imposed on the recipient, usually in favour of the person giving the gift. The gift implies that the assets given are removed definitively from the net assets of the donor in favour of the donee. However, it may happen that the donor would like to continue receiving an income for the rest of his or her life, in order to maintain his or her current standard of living. 

To find out more, contact your private banker.


Life insurance policy

Life insurance allows the beneficiary or beneficiaries in the event of death to be designated from the outset: spouse, children, grandchildren etc.
The insurance benefit due to a third-party beneficiary does not form part of the inheritance of the policyholder if he or she dies. The beneficiary can thus accept the life insurance benefit without agreeing to inherit an indebted estate.

The policy's beneficiary clause takes precedence over any other document, even a will made subsequently.

To find out more, contact your private banker.


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