The reserved portion limits the will of the deceased by reserving a fraction of the succession to certain categories of heirs called “compulsory heirs” (“héritiers réservataires”).

While settling the succession, donations made by the deceased will be taken into account in two cases:
1) When there exists at least two heirs and one of them has received a donation; and
2) When the deceased leaves at least one compulsory heir (“héritiers réservataires”).

Multiple forms of donations exist such as notarial donations, disguised donations, indirect donations and manual donations.

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In regards to his or her quality, the surviving spouse possesses different rights in successions.

The opening of a succession brings the opening of an inheritance indivision that only terminates once the estate has been distributed.

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Free transfers (“mutations à titre gratuity”) concern two categories: transfers by death (legal or testamentary successions) and inter vivos transfers (direct or indirect donations, shared donations (“donations-partage”) or manual donations).

Each inheritance share is subject to inheritance tax. The heirs are jointly liable for the payment of these taxes (article 1709 of the French civil code).

The declaration of succession is mandatory for any heir, legatee (« légataire »), beneficiary (« donataire »), guardian (« tuteur ») or curator (« curateur ») (article 800 of the French general tax code). It can be filled in without the intervention of notary as the latter is not required.

The holographic will is a private deed that presents advantages due to its freeness and secret nature. It does not require any registration or administrative formalities; the intervention of a notary is for instance not a validity condition for this type of will.

A will can take different forms such as wills by public instrument (“testament authentique”), holographic wills (“testament holographe”), international wills and secret wills (“testament mystique”).

Testamentary revocation is of public order; its principle is stated in article 895 of the French civil code. A will can therefore freely be revoked by its testator. This right being discretionary, it cannot be considered abusive.