The family remains a primary concern for everyone, whether its a Couple, children, parents, grand-parents. Protecting children, their spouse or even a third party, family law will always be ruled by affection. We must protect our loved ones but also protect ourselves by anticipating the risks of possible marital breakdown.
Divorce anticipation remains crucial in an estate planning perspective, by adapting the matrimonial regime to each economic situation (for instance: existing business for one spouse).
Protection of the spouse is much more natural in case of death than in a divorce situation.
Inheritance is first a demographic situation. According to recent studies, the average age to inherit is 46 years for the children and 52 years for all heirs. From a social point of view, inheritance provides for continuity between life and death through the inherited object. Inheritance has essentially an economic dimension as, at the end of the day, the inheritance is shared in value among the heirs. At last, inheritance reveals the power of our ownership rights, by granting to everyone the right to dispose of their assets according their own will.
Inheritance may be legal or testamentary. Inheritance is “legal” when the transfer of assets is made directly from the law, without any will drafted by the deceased. Successors are called in this case “heirs”. Inheritance can also be voluntary and is materialised through an unilateral legal act: the will.
In such situations, successors are called legatees.
Our inheritance law lies on both the legal system and testamentary system. Through the ages and especially the revolutionary law, the principle of inheritance unity, according to which the law does not make any difference from the nature or the origin of the assets to establish the inheritance process, has been maintained. The principle non-discrimination according to age or sex among the heirs has also been enacted.
After the Civil Code, inheritance law has known major evolutions. Significant importance has been given to couple, affiliations equality and a decline of the ascendants rights (whose reserved portion was removed in 2006). In relation to children rights, the principle of equality between legitimate and natural affiliations was enacted by the 3 January 1972 law. Indeed, children born of adulterous relationship had to wait until 2001 to see their rights fully recovered. Before that, in the case where they would compete with the surviving spouse, inheritance rights of these children was reduced to half of what they should have received if they had been born from a marital relationship.
As far as the surviving spouse is concerned, it is only after 2001 that he/she obtained ownership rights, ranked before brothers and sisters and benefited from a reserved portion.
- Protection of the spouse
- Children rights
- Reconstituted family
- International inheritance
- Successoral indivision
- Inheritance distribution
- Protection of adults