On 1 September, a new inheritance law and a new marriage law will come into effect in Belgium. At the same time, Flanders is launching a reform of inheritance tax. Hundreds of pages with laws and decrees. But what should we remember? These are the most important changes.
1. Approve the estate with the whole family
Hitherto prohibited, with a few exceptions, but possibly as of 1 September, you can conclude an agreement with your heirs during your life with your heirs about how you want to share your inheritance after your death and to say it on paper. Pacts for future succession are no longer prohibited.
Via the punctual estate pactYou can write on paper that the heirs agree on the value of a donation you make to someone in the family or to a non-heir. You can also close one global property pact, or & # 39; Family Pact & # 39 ;, with the whole family.
"Good deals make good families". That is how Charlotte Declerck, tax attorney at Tiberghien, welcomes this new opportunity. "This is the first time we have really taken the risk of family conflicts after a death." "Without doubt the most important change of the new legacy"adds Steven Seyns, heritage lawyer at Bright.
→ Good to know: Our estate planning tool tells you step by step how you can manage your estate yourself and which instruments can help you.
2. More freedom to share the estate
If you have children, you still can not disprove them against their will. Because your children remain heirs protected by law. But the law now determines the minimum heritage share of children on the half of the estate only. "Parents who have at least two children have more freedom of movement, so far one person with two children can have only one third of his possessions and of three only a quarter of his legacy"explains the estate law specialist Hélène Cassman of Greenille of Laga.
Succession guide 2018
Heritage lawyer Steven Seyns adds: "Not only parents, but everyone can now say to whom their patrimony should return after his death, with less interference from the government." For isolated children without children and unmarried couples, wealth is now 100% available. "Couples without children no longer have to make a declaration of legal cohabitation to escape the parent agreement of the parents, since the legal reserve of the parents has been lifted, but the children retain a maintenance obligation towards the parents. compared to their parents. "
3. Beautiful children legally worried
"Increasing disposable income is important for mixed families", notes Anouck Lejeune, senior wealth planner at Puilaetco Dewaay Private Banking. The children of the partner can now inherit the same number as the biological children, although they are not legal heirs and even fewer heirs protected by the law. "The new scheme allows for the involvement of the partner's children in succession, which until now was only possible to a limited extent, also gives Bart Verdickt, partner at Greenille van Laga. The in-laws must, however, make a will or a gift. But this is perfectly possible according to the new law of succession. Even if your own children prefer to see that it is different "says Bart Verdickt.
"Take a step-family where every parent has two children, until now a parent could not give the partner's children a cake equal to his own, and he can do so according to the new law of inheritance."says Steven Seyns.
The conclusion of an estate pact with children and stepchildren is also part of the possibilities.
4. The same treatment for the donation of a building and the donation of money
It is perfectly possible to lose all your belongings during your life. But on the day of your death, the administration will check that you have not been too generous. This valuation was so far the cause of shortage, because for the movable goods, it was the value on the day of the donation, while for the real estate, the value was taken on the day of the death of the donor.
"From now on it is no longer necessary to place complex constructions in order to adapt to this distinction, whether it concerns giving a building, money or a painting. intrinsic value of the property on the day of donation who counts. We only look at the value of the good at the moment the donor throws it away. What the stragglers do afterwards does not matter anymore "says Steven Seyns. "To treat old donations on the same footing as more recent donations, the value of each donation will be indexed on the day of death"adds Anouck Lejeune.
→ Good to know: If you make a donation, gift taxes will be due. The amount of this tax depends on a number of elements. Do the maths>
5. Exception for the successor of the family business
According to the new rule, according to which donations are valued on the date of the donation and the value is indexed on the date of death (see point 4), there is an important exception: gifts with usufruct reserve. In this case, the valuation takes place on the date on which the beneficiary acquires the usufruct. This is usually the date of death, unless the donor has previously given usufruct.
"It disturbs the donations of family businesses, as we see a lot in practice", points to the specialist of the law of succession Alain Verbeke, from Greenille van Laga. Take a father with two children: Helen, who wants to continue the business, and Tom, who chooses a different career. The father gives the shares of the company to Helene with usufruct reserve. "The donation to Helen is valued at the time of death to see if Helen and Tom are being treated on the same footing.Thus, and although he is not active in the family business, Tom will benefit from the increase in value of the shares since the donation. thanks to the stubborn work of Hélène, who succeeded her father "says Martin Desimpel, senior wealth planner at Puilaetco Dewaay.
→ Good to know: The tax official is not your heir, even though he always participates in your inheritance. How much are inheritance taxes? Do the maths>
6. No need to return received goods
now donations are reported in value instead of in kind if it appears that someone has received more than his share. The other heirs will no longer be able to ask to return the property as such, but are entitled to an envelope to compensate as creditors. "It may sound abstract, but it has important implicationssays Steven Seyns. For both the donor and the donee. This makes it possible to treat children on an equal footing, while giving specific goods to one of them. Your collection of old cars & # 39; s to Tom and the shares of the family business to Helen, for example ", illustrates Steven Seyns.
Conversely, someone who has received these goods no longer has to fear that other heirs will be given the property that is given when the donor dies. "Imagine: you have lived for years in the house that your parents gave you and where you feel at home, but on the day of the death of your parents there would be another heir in this house", as an example gives Nathalie Labeeuw, Cazimir.
This catastrophe scenario, possibly in the old law of inheritance, hung above the head of the person who had received this kind of donation as a sword of Damocles. "This withdrawn risk is a huge step forward, both during the life of the donor and the liquidation of his legacyexplains Guillaume Deknudt, a lawyer at Deknudt Nelis. The gifted person can do what he wants with his gift. Even if the liquidation procedure takes a long time, the donated goods no longer have to wait or remain empty. "
7. A new marriage can no longer be harmful to children
By marrying you you bring your partner into the clan of the legal heirs. If you do not pay anything, this partner will experience the usufruct on your estate. This means that your children no longer have full ownership, but only the bare ownership of your property.
Moreover, since your spouse is a protected heir, you can not disparage him. Since 2003, however, spouses with children in a previous relationship can restrict the inheritance rights between them by marriage contract, but the surviving spouse must at least have the usufruct of the parental home. "But usually it is the most important element of the family patrimony, so this clause, called Valkeniers, does not really bring relief to most mixed families.", recognizes Nathalie Labeeuw.
The new matrimonial property law regulates this. "Remarried with children can now to cancel the usufruct of the parental home and therefore completely disparage each other. In order to prevent the surviving spouse from leaving the parental home immediately, the law gives him the right to stay there for a minimum of six months.says Nathalie Labeeuw.
The stepparent can not do this in the new succession law more does the usufruct on the property of which the deceased has donated to his children. "In this way we avoid competition between the children and the step-parent, adds Martin Desimpel. And if a husband reserves a gift with usufruct, the surviving spouse can only exercise this usufruct if the donation was made during the marriage. For the donations you made to your children before they remarried, the children should not wait until the death of their step-parent to completely dispose of the donated goods. "
→ Good to know: If you do not regulate in advance, it is the law that decides who inherits what. What is the legal distribution of your assets in your concrete situation? And what is the impact of a change in your personal situation? Make a simulation with our interactive module>
8. More solidarity between spouses
If you are married under the regime of separation of propertyYou do not build a common heritage during marriage, but only two different inheritances: one for each spouse. This strict separation has advantages, for example because it allows the self-employed to protect his partner against the creditors in case his company loses its wings. But if one of the two partners earns less than the other or has stopped his career damper to raise the children, he can, for example, remain empty-handed in case of divorce.
In order to show some solidarity, the notary is obliged to designate two new possibilities for (future) spouses who want to introduce the regime of property separation.
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First of all, it is possible to continue with their marriage contract admission clause. Thus, in the case of a divorce, the spouses still share the income that the other spouse earned during the marriage. It will therefore always be a separation of property, but in case of dissolution of the marriage, the economically stronger spouse will have to pay a sum of money to the economically weaker partner.
The second option is to resume in the marriage contract a judicial fairness clause. Again, it is a possibility, not an obligation. If the marriage contract contains such a clause, the spouse who gets himself empty-handed can appeal to the judge to obtain part of the acquisitions.
9. The self-employed person no longer escapes the common heritage
If you are married under the legal regime, what both spouses deserve during marriage is part of the common heritage. Each partner owns half of this common heritage, regardless of the partner who has earned the income. "Up to now, an independent spouse has been able to avoid many professional income from this common heritage by establishing a company of which he is a shareholder and to retain that income." The reform of the marriage law puts an end to this trick. dissolution of the marriage – by divorce or by death – the independent spouse is liable for the compensation of the professional income that the common heritage has not received, but that he could reasonably have obtained if the profession had not been exercised in society "explains Guillaume Deknudt. "If one of the spouses is independent, this is not the case no difference whether he works in society or not"concludes Anouck Declerck.
10. Flanders charges fewer legacies
Flanders has changed the way of calculating the death penalty. This reform will also take effect on 1 September. Flanders wants to support the greater flexibility of the new inheritance tax. One of the novelties is that the surviving partner no longer has to pay inheritance tax on the first $ 50,000 movable property, such as money or investments. This represents a saving of 1,500 euros. The existing exemption for the residence remains.
The reform even has a greater impact on those who inherit a brother, a sister, a family member or a friend of another. The highest inheritance tax of 65% – on the tranche above 125,000 euros – disappears. In the future no one pays more than 55% tax on an inheritance in Flanders. In addition weaker legacies will be less taxed. A new percentage of 25% will be created on the first tranche of 35,000 euros.