Inheritance contract

Often there is a need to determine in a binding manner the outcome of an estate during the owner’s lifetime. This is the purpose of the inheritance contract, inter alia. The inheritance contract enables the testator to enter into an agreement in respect of the estate with one or more contractual partners during his lifetime. It is a reciprocal legal agreement in the event of your death, which can only be concluded by notarial deed.

Questions concerning the “inheritance contract”

The will. The will is a unilateral legal act. Unlike the inheritance contract, there are no contractual partners involved in a will. A will can be written by hand or drawn up by notarial deed. In certain situations, an oral disposition is also permissible (in the case of an emergency will).  

Contrary to a will, the inheritance contract may not in principle be revoked or freely amended. However, some exceptions are very complex, so we strongly recommend you seek professional advice.

Exceptions may occur if:

a) All the parties to the inheritance contract agree to an amendment in the legally binding form; or

b) The parties to the contract did not wish it to be unamendable; or

c) In the event of unworthiness to inherit; or

d) A valid will mentions a verifiable ground for disinheritance and an instruction to disinherit is given.

In practice, exception (b) occurs the most often, such as when, decades earlier, spouses designate in an inheritance contract an heir who was not close to the first deceased spouse and who later estranges himself from the surviving spouse. This exception also applies to charitable institutions.

In the case of a contract of renunciation of inheritance, the heir waives his inheritance rights against the testator prior to the testator’s death. This includes statutory inheritance entitlements. An heir who waives the inheritance is thus disregarded as an heir when the time of inheritance arrives.

Unless otherwise agreed, the waiver also applies to the descendants of the waiving person.

Occasionally, it is agreed that the testator may again consider the waiving person in his will notwithstanding the original waiver.

The contract of renunciation of inheritance can be concluded in exchange for payment.