How to properly prepare for your succession

In matters of succession and inheritance, it is impossible to derogate from the civil rules which apply to everyone. Thus, in French law, a parent cannot disinherit one or his children, as is the case in certain Anglo-Saxon countries (United Kingdom, United States, etc.). In France, the civil code distinguishes the “hereditary reserve” of the “Available quota”. The first must go to the direct descendants of the deceased and varies according to the size of the siblings. The second is freely assigned to the person(s) of their choice.

Despite everything, it is possible to organize the transmission of one’s assets during one’s lifetime, by means of several legal provisions (donation, bequest, will, etc.). Some are not immutable. “It is appropriate for everyone to re-examine them every three or five years to see if they still correspond to their situation, to their objectives, and to check that the beneficiaries chosen are still the same”advises Thaline Melkonian, head of asset engineering at Degroof Petercam.

Benefit your spouse

In the absence of specific provisions, the surviving spouse has two options. In the presence of exclusively joint children, the widow or widower can choose between a quarter of the estate in full ownership or 100% in usufruct. “On the other hand, in the presence of non-exclusively common children, his legal rights are only one quarter in full ownership”, explains Fabien Vatinel, director of heritage engineering at Neuflize OBC. It is always possible to make arrangements to protect your “other half”.

Read also: Can you renounce your inheritance rights in favor of one of your disabled brothers or sisters?

We must begin by examining the marriage contract and, if necessary, changing it to a more protective regime in favor of the surviving spouse. The choice of the universal community, which consists of putting all the heritage in common, is not the only solution. “One can opt for a regime of community reduced to acquests integrating a preciput clause which allows certain assets to be freely withdrawn before the distribution of the estate, or a specific clause providing for the attribution of full ownership of certain assets such as the principal residence or bank accounts., explains Fabien Vatinel.

Another strategy consists in making a donation to the last of the living, each member of the couple having to do this act in favor of the other. “But beware of unpleasant surprises! We mistakenly believe that the other will inherit everything. It’s wrong. He will sometimes have to deal with the children from their marriage and with those from a previous union.emphasizes Arlette Darmon, notary at Monassier & Associés, in Paris. It will therefore be necessary to consider supplementing this provision by the possible drafting of a will. »

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