Types of heirs
You can leave all your property to one person. If you do this, however, you should make provision for at least one other person to inherit should the sole heir die before or at the same time as you.
In their will, parents can name a tutor for their minor child if both of them die before the child reaches the age of majority.
If only one parent dies before the child reaches the age of majority, the surviving parent will be the tutor. If both parents die at different times, the tutor will be the person appointed by the last surviving parent.
If the parents die at the same time and have appointed different people as tutors for their child, the tutor will be chosen by the court.
Groups of heirs
The use of generic expressions such as “my children”, “my nieces and nephews” and other similar terms to designate your heirs may give rise to a legal challenge.
For example, you may state in your will that : “I bequeath all my property, in equal shares, to my children”. If one of your children dies before you, his or her share of the inheritance will automatically go to any children that he or she may have (your grandchildren). If you do not want this to happen, you must say so in your will.
Under the rules governing the family patrimony, the surviving spouse receives half the net value of the following property:
- the principal residence;
- any secondary residences used by the family;
- the furniture used by the family to decorate the residences;
- the motor vehicles used by the family;
- the rights accrued in a pension plan during the marriage or civil union;
- the earnings registered in a pension plan by each spouse during the marriage or civil union.
If you are married or in a civil union under the regime of separation as to property, community of property or partnership of acquests, the liquidator, before liquidating the succession, must first apportion the family patrimony and abide by the provisions of your matrimonial regime.
This means that you cannot bequeath the portion of the family patrimony that belongs to your surviving spouse, or the surviving spouse’s portion of the matrimonial regime.
Furthermore, you cannot limit the rights of your surviving spouse in the event that he or she remarries or enters into a civil union after your death.
Divorce or dissolution of a civil union revokes any bequest to your former spouse, unless you indicate, in your will, that you wish to maintain the bequest in spite of the divorce or dissolution.
Divorce or dissolution of a civil union do not usually nullify:
- other gifts mortis causa - i.e. gifts that other people have made to your former spouse;
- gifts inter vivos (between living people) that:
- you have made to your former spouse, or;
- other people have made to your former spouse or to you because of your marriage.
The court may also order a gift to be reduced or the payment of a gift to be postponed to a later date set by the court.