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How can I regulate succession to my estate?

It makes sense to think about what you want to happen to your assets and possessions after you die. What does the law require, and how much of your estate are you free to dispose of as you please?

What does the law require?

If the statutory rules on succession will not lead to the results that you want, you have the following options:

Making a will

By making a will, you can leave more or less to your individual heirs than they would receive by law. You can leave individual articles (collections, jewellery) to specific people by making a bequest. You can also include conditions or contingencies in your will.

If you don't have any statutory heirs, you can leave all your assets to a person or institution by making a will.

Making a contract of succession

By entering into a contract of succession, you can make contractual arrangements during your lifetime with your heirs on how your estate will be distributed.

There are two distinct forms of contract of succession:

  • The positive contract of succession: with this contract, you can undertake to another person to leave your estate and/or a bequest to that person or a third party.
  • The inheritance renunciation contract: you can enter into a contract with an heir by which he or she renounces his or her rights to inherit, either in return for a valuable consideration or not.

If you want to draw up a contract of succession, you should contact an authenticating official such as a notary. All the parties to a contract of succession must be over the age of majority. The subsequent amendment or cancellation of a contract of succession requires the consent of all the parties.

Contact an authenticating official in order to draw up a contract of succession

Making a gift

By making a gift while you are still alive, you can give someone an advance on their inheritance. Where gifts are made by a testator in the last five years before their death, the amounts paid out to the statutory heirs must be adjusted equitably to take account of this. If there are not enough assets to pay the statutory entitlements because of gifts, your heirs can file an action in abatement, reducing other bequests to enable the statutory entitlements to be paid out.

Keep a written record of your gifts so that any disputes after your death can be avoided.