The word "will" refers to a chapter in its existence that one would like to postpone as far as possible. Yet, it's never too early to write a will! Getting into it with full knowledge of the facts and in full possession of your means is to maximize the chances of a peaceful succession for your loved ones. Explanations and advice in this blog.
If you do not write a will, and in the absence of a marriage contract providing for provisions for cause of death, the rules of the “legal devolution” of inheritance will apply in order to transmit your patrimony to your heirs. These privilege your close relatives in a very specific order: children first, parents and siblings then, grandparents, and finally cousins, nephews and nieces and uncles and aunts. In Belgium, legal devolution is applied in a large majority of cases, because the deceased did not anticipate things. Unfortunately, these rules may not be suitable for your situation or wishes.
In legal devolution, the surviving married spouse inherits the usufruct of the estate, that is to say the enjoyment of the goods and the "fruits" (rents, interest, dividends, etc.) generated by these goods. The descendants, for their part, inherit the bare ownership of the succession, that is to say the title deeds of the property transmitted. This is actually a "pending" ownership that will become "full ownership" on the day of the surviving spouse's death or if the surviving spouse waives the usufruct.
Whatever the deceased's wishes, the law provides that children cannot be totally disinherited by their parents and reserves a minimum share of the inheritance for them: this is the hereditary reserve. Since 2018, the hereditary reserve is made up of half of the estate, regardless of the number of children. The reserve of the surviving married spouse relates to the usufruct of half of the estate and must include at least the usufruct of the family home and the furniture that adorns it.
Unless otherwise provided in the will, the surviving legal cohabitant inherits only the usufruct from the deceased in the family home. He is therefore partially protected but less well off than the surviving married spouse. Common-law partners are simply not considered as heirs within the framework of legal devolution. Without special provision, they inherit nothing at all.
Given the principles of legal devolution, there are many cases in which the drafting of a will is desirable. To only cite a few :
Apart from these purely inheritance considerations, writing a will is also the best way to list your assets. This will prevent your heirs from tedious search procedures and (de) blocking of accounts!
To pass on your patrimony according to your will, it is therefore necessary to draw up a will. This can be prepared by a notary or by you - this is called a holographic will. The main advantage of a holographic will is its cost: since it is written under private signature, a priori without outside help, it is completely free. In addition, it can easily and at any time be changed.
However, certain situations require the intervention of a notary, especially when you are physically or mentally unable to draw up your will yourself.
To be valid, a holograph will must meet certain rules. It must imperatively:
Under these conditions, a holographic will has exactly the same validity as a notarial will.
Wills can be registered in the Central Register of Wills and kept in a notarial office. This has the effect of securing your will and thus avoiding the risk of loss or destruction. Your will therefore exist in the eyes of the authorities and can be easily enforceable against the heirs.
Without anticipation, inheritance can become a real ordeal for families, further increasing the emotional burden of losing a loved one. Blocked accounts, some of which everyone ignores the existence, conflicts between heirs ... To ensure a peaceful succession, drafting of a will in due form and clear structuring of one's patrimony are essential. To pragmatically give you an example, the Belgian start-up Legacio offers a simple, fast and secure online will drafting (and registration) service for an affordable cost.
Our investment portfolios have many advantages for preparing and implementing a succession. On the one hand, easyvest allows you to open joint investment accounts (owned by both you and your spouse) which are easy to understand, follow, and maintain. By involving your spouse now, you make sure that he or she will have all the keys in hand to ensure his or her financial independence in your absence. On the other hand, easyvest offers the possibility of opening investment accounts with dismemberment of usufruct and bare ownership. The index approach requiring little investor involvement might be particularly suitable for joint ownership of this type. By doing this, you might enjoy a financial annuity while leaving it to your spouse and heirs to continue to make your wealth grow, with ease!
This article was written when easyvest was authorized and regulated by the FSMA as an agent in banking and investment services. Today, easyvest is a brand of EASYVEST NV/SA, authorized and regulated by the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority, with company number BE0631.809.696, as a portfolio management company and as a broker in insurances, with its registered office in Rue Gachard 59, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Copyright 2023 EASYVEST NV/SA.