Types of heirs

Sole heir

You can leave all your property to one person. If you do this, however, you should make provision for at least one other person to inherit should the sole heir die before or at the same time as you. This prevents your succession from having to be settled as though no will existed.

Minor child

In their will, parents can appoint a tutor for their minor child if both of them die or become incapable of taking care of themselves or their property before the child reaches the age of majority. Only one tutor can be appointed for the child, but several tutors can be appointed to administer the child’s property. 

If only one parent dies or becomes incapable before the child reaches the age of majority, the surviving or capable parent will be the tutor. If both parents die or become incapable at different times before the child reaches the age of majority, the tutor will be the person appointed by the last surviving or capable parent in said parent’s will or protection mandate.

If the parents die or become incapable at the same time and have appointed different people as tutors for their child, the tutor will be chosen by the court.

A tutor can also be appointed for your minor child This hyperlink will open in a new window. by sending a declaration to the Public Curator.

Groups of heirs

The use of generic expressions such as “my children”, “my nieces and nephews” and other similar terms to designate your heirs may give rise to a legal challenge or practical difficulties.

For example, you may state in your will that: “I bequeath all my property, in equal shares, to my children”. If one of your children dies before you, his or her share of the inheritance will automatically go to any children that he or she may have (your grandchildren). If you do not want this to happen, you must say so in your will.

Your property will be shared equally among your heirs if you fail to specify otherwise.

Spouse in a marriage or civil union

Your death terminates your marriage or civil union to your spouse.

This entails the partition of the family patrimony and matrimonial regime. This partition is given priority over the distribution of your property to your heirs. Accordingly, depending on your personal situation, you may not be able to leave certain property or amounts to persons other than your spouse.

Moreover, you may generally not require your spouse to do or not do something in order to inherit. For instance, you may not prevent your spouse from marrying or entering a civil union after your death.

Consult a legal advisor to make sure your last wishes can be respected.

Former spouse

Divorce or dissolution of a civil union revokes any bequest to your former spouse, unless you indicate, in your will, that you wish to maintain the bequest in spite of the divorce or dissolution.

Gifts

Divorce or dissolution of a civil union do not usually nullify:

  • other gifts mortis causa - i.e. gifts that other people have made to your former spouse;
  • gifts inter vivos (between living people) that:
    • you have made to your former spouse, or;
    • other people have made to your former spouse or to you because of your marriage.

The court may also order a gift to be reduced or the payment of a gift to be postponed to a later date set by the court.

Last update: December 5, 2022

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