Inheritance: set up the heritage reserve with the family pact

Through the family pact, a child can now accept an infringement on his/her reserve in advance. This legal system favors a disabled family member, who is financially incapacitated, for example.

What does a heritage reserve mean?

Children are the forced heirs. In this regard, they have a minimum share in their parents' inheritance . In principle, they cannot be deprived of this. Therefore, if the parents’ consent to donations or legacies which infringe on this reserve, the children may reduce these donations and legacies to preserve their share, at the opening of this inheritance.

However, since 2007, the family pact allows forced heirs to give up on the reduction action in advance. Previously a protected heir could do so during death but in advance. Such a surrender was perceived as a pact on future inheritance, prohibited by our law.

What is the impact of the family pact?

Through this surrender, the donor can arrange his properties more freely, in favor of the people of his choice (surviving spouse, another child, a third party , etc.), since he can donate without being afraid of a potential reconsideration of his action.

Even so, surrendering doesn’t make an impact on the inheritance rights of the person surrendering, as the latter continues inheriting other properties of the donor or the legatee, in keeping with his very own rights.

How to implement a family pact?

The family pact is an authentic act which is signed by two notaries. This act must expressly specify the beneficiary of the waiver and mention all of the legal consequences.

Moreover, the consent of the person surrendering, and the donor are necessary. The person surrendering cannot be an emancipated minor, an adult under legal guardianship (except if the latter is assisted by his guardian) or under supervision (except if he is authorized by the family council)

Considerable freedom for the person surrendering:

  • Surrendering can be an infringement on the entire reserve (in which case the person surrendering accepts to be deprived of all his rights);
  • Surrendering could concern an infringement on a portion of the reserve (half, a quarter, etc.);
  • Surrendering may only concern the reduction of a single donation , concerning a specific property.
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