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The new Belgian inheritance law

The new Belgian inheritance law: check your will!

If your will previously specified leaving the major portion of your estate to a certain person, such provisions – frequently used – could have adverse effects on the transfer of your estate after your death following the entry into force of the new Belgian inheritance law on 1 September 2018.

The change in the law increases the “available portion” (i.e. the portion of the estate that you can freely dispose of while you are alive or at your death depending on the number of heirs you have). Whereas in the past, it was one quarter in the presence of two or more children, it is now one half.

For instance, suppose you are divorced with two children from your marriage and you have been living for several years with a partner whom you would like to protect in the event of your death. If you stated in your will that you would like to have your partner treated on the same footing as your children, it is quite likely that you will have been advised to state in your will that you will leave him/her the highest available portion of your estate.

Before the new law came into effect, your two children and your partner would have each received one third of your estate, in line with your wishes. But the new law changes this. Applying to all death estates as of 1 September 2018, the new law means that your partner will no longer inherit, on the basis of such a will, one third but half of your estate, with each of your children only receiving a quarter. This previous way of putting each heir on the same footing is thus no longer available. If this situation applies to you, you need to urgently change your will.

Given the many negative effects of these new rules, we strongly recommend you check your will to see whether it still leads to the desired inheritance situation on your death.

Should you need support in checking your will or drafting new provisions, please do not hesitate to contact us.Questions? Are you looking at estate planning?