Testaments

The essence of a candle is not the wax that leaves its traces, but the light.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Citadelle

People who seriously start to reflect about what will happen when they pass away and pass on property and obligations show a strong sense of responsibility.

We all think about it once in a while but only a small number act upon that thought. Unfortunately the laws of descent and distribution (intestacy rules) do not fit all the cases.

Finding the adequate solution for the different stages in life and writing it down should be what we aim for. Often it is not difficult once the formal rules are explained and legal advice has been given. Writing a valid testament is possible for everyone.

In the more complicated cases I offer to help you. Those can be special family situations (for example family members incapable to work or with other needs for special protection, so called patchwork families, illnesses, family disputes) or particular characteristics of the inheritance itself. This could be a connection to another country, a family business, partnership in a company, real estate, a community of heirs etc.

Cases with a connection to a foreign country are even more complex:

Which law is applicable? Is the inheritance ruled by the laws of two or more countries? Which law is favorable for my intentions? Are there restrictions in the other country in how to testate? Is my testament valid in the international context? What are the costs? What will be the situation for my heirs? What kind of special difficulties and costs do they have to cope with?

The surviving spouse may have a different obligatory right to the inheritance depending on the different countries, the rules on the mandatory part might be more or less strict, the changing of ownership of real estate can be handled in other ways. Documents may have to be accepted by an other country, tax law and double taxation are important to consider.

Estate planning in cases with a connection to a foreign country is best started as soon as possible. Neglecting this can lead to unsatisfying results in the succession and a waste of funds on costs and taxes.

Combining technical legal knowledge with wisdom and kindness may generate solutions that have a positive influence on the following generations and serve as an example instead of creating strife.

Where all is well nothing is unjust.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau