If you have no spouse or children at the time of your death, then your assets will pass to your family. If you have a spouse but no children, then all of your assets will pass to your spouse. If you leave behind a spouse and children, then your spouse will inherit half of the estate and the remaining half will pass in equal portions to your children.
If you wish to leave the entire inheritance to a specific person – or to leave a part to another – you need to make a will. In this connection, a distinction is made between the legitimate portion and the part of the estate in excess of the legitimate portion. The legitimate portion constitutes 25 percent and is the part of the inheritance which you cannot dispose of, and the part of the estate in excess of the legitimate portion constitutes 75 percent of the inheritance which you may dispose of by will.
You can also decide by will that the property left by you is to be the separate property of your heirs.
There are several types of separate property, including separate property not subject to division in case of separation or divorce but only in case of the owner’s death, fully separate property, and separate property not subject to division in case of separation or divorce nor in respect of the estate of the surviving spouse.
In the event that you would like the entire part of the estate in excess of the legitimate portion to remain in the family, so that a potential son-in-law or daughter-in-law will have no share thereof, neither in case of separation, divorce nor death, you may also decide that the inheritance to your children is to be fully separate property with succession.
When choosing this option, the part of the estate in excess of the legitimate portion will be “sealed in” and passed on through generations.
Your children will have the right of ownership of the inheritance; however, they will not be able to dispose of the assets by will, as the assets will pass on to your grandchildren when your children pass away.
You can also decide by will that the inheritance to you children is to be settled. Settlement means that the payment of the inheritance will be administered, and in this connection a distinction is made between a total or partial settlement. In case of a total settlement, your children will have no right to dispose of the assets. In case of a partial settlement, funds will be released to your children in accordance with the provisions determined by you in the will, e.g. a clause regarding release of funds for purchase of specific assets like real property etc. or payment by instalments.
You and your spouse may also make a will in which you propose a testamentary guardian for your children. In the event of the death of you and your spouse, the guardian will take care of the interests of your children, not just practically but also financially.
You are always welcome to contact us for further information.