The family remains a primary concern for everyone, whether it consists of a couple, children, parents, grand-parents. In protecting children, spouses 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.
Anticipating a divorce remains crucial in from an estate planning perspective, implemented by adapting the matrimonial property regime to each financial situation (for example, existing business to go to one spouse).
Protecting the surviving spouse is much more common in the event of a death than it is in a divorce situation.
Inheritance is based on demographic situations. According to recent studies, the average age to inherit is 46 for the children and 52 for all heirs. From a social point of view, inheritances provide for continuity between life and death through transmission of the inherited object. Inheritances have essentially a financial dimension as, at the end of the day, the overall inheritance is shared in value among the heirs. In addition, inheritances reveal the extent of our ownership rights by granting everyone the right to dispose of their assets according their own wishes.
Inheritance may be legal or testamentary. Inheritance is ‘legal’ when the transfer of assets is made directly in application of the law without any will having been drafted by the deceased. Successors are, in this situation, called ‘heirs’. Inheritances can also be voluntary and are materialised in a unilateral legal act, the will.
In such situations, successors are called legatees.
Our inheritance law relies on both the legal and testamentary systems. Through the ages and especially the laws produced at the time of the Revolution, the principle of inheritance consistency, according to which the law does not make any difference between the nature or origin of the assets when establishing the inheritance process, has been maintained. The principle of non-discrimination based on the age or sex of the heirs has also been enacted.
After the Civil Code, inheritance law has been subject to various major changes. 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’s rights, the principle of equality between legitimate and natural children was enacted in the Law of 3 January 1972. While previously they were competing with the surviving spouse – the inheritance rights of such children were reduced to half of what they should have received if they had been born from a marital relationship – children born of adulterous relationships had to wait until 2001 to see their rights fully enforced.
In relation to the surviving spouse, it was only after 2001 that the surviving spouse obtained ownership rights, ranked above brothers and sisters and benefited from a reserved portion.
We advise you on the following:
- Spousal protectionspouse
- Children’s rights
- Reconstituted families
- International inheritances
- Estate indivision
- Estate distributions
- Protection of adults