How do you organise your estate?

Who can organise your estate?

Everyone is free to organise their estate as they wish. It is a matter of determining in advance the beneficiaries of the assets existing at the time of death.

Who can make a will and how does one go about it?

Anyone who is able to express their last wishes validly and freely can make a will. This person (the testator) thus decides what will happen to all or part of his or her assets for the period following their death.

There are 3 types of will, all of which have the same legal value. Thus, there are:

  • the handwritten will: entirely handwritten, dated and signed by the testator;
  • the notarised will, which is:
    • dictated by the testator;
    • received by 2 civil law notaries or by a civil law notary assisted by 2 witnesses;
  • the sealed will (or secret will): it is an act written by the testator or another person and presented, by the testator, closed and sealed in the presence of 2 witnesses to a civil law notary. The latter draws up an authentic deed of execution. This document is signed by the testator, the civil law notary and the 2 witnesses.

A testator may modify or revoke their will at any moment.

Absence of a will: How does it work?

If a person dies without leaving a will, the legal order of succession applies. Thus, the first heirs are, in general, the descendants (children, grandchildren) and the surviving spouse, then come the father, the mother and the brothers and sisters of the deceased and their descendants, etc.

Nevertheless, if the spouses are married under the universal community of property regime with attribution to the surviving spouse of the entire community (survival clause), the entire estate of the deceased is attributed to the surviving spouse. The estate of the 2 spouses is then only open on the death of the surviving spouse.

Why make a donation?

A donation allows a person to organise and distribute his or her estate before his or her death.

However, if you have a child, you cannot give all your assets as a gift. In fact, a donation cannot exceed ½ of your assets if you leave a child at the time of your death, 1/3 if there are 2 children and 1/4 if there are 3 or more children.

In principle, all donations must be made before a notary. It is subject to registration fees calculated on the basis of the market value of the donated property on the day of the donation. These fees also vary according to the family relationship between the donor and the beneficiary of the donation.

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