How is a will drawn up and can I register it?
Last update: 10/1/2012
Belgian law recognises, among others, the following forms of will: wills executed before a civil law notary or a notarial will, olograph wills (which must be written, dated and signed by the testator alone) and international wills.
In a cross-border situation, a will is in principle valid in Belgium if it complies with the law of the country where it was drawn up ( “locus regit actum“ ).
A notary who records an authenticated will or executes an international will or with whom an holographic will is filed is required to register this will in the central register of testamentary dispositions, managed by the Fédération Royale du Notariat belge. For holographic wills filed with a notary, the testator may refuse permission for his/her will to be entered in this register.
Information about how to keep, to register and to search for a will are also available on the website of the European Network of Register of Wills Association (ENRWA) in the section “Information sheet”.
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will as regards its form and substance?
Conditions of form: Belgian law recognises the validity of authentic wills (drawn up before a civil law notary), holographic wills, international wills and certain privileged wills (for example servicemen’s wills and wills made at sea – see Art. 981 et seq. Civil Code).
Conditions of substance: The testator must be capable of expressing his/her wishes legitimately and freely (Art. 901 to 904 Civil Code). Certain categories of persons cannot be designated as legatees (doctors, managers of convalescent homes, etc. – Art. 909 Civil Code).
What are the conditions governing the validity of a will drawn up in another State?
Article 83 of the P.I.L. Code refers to The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961.
Are agreements relating to a future inheritance authorised? Who can conclude such an agreement? What form must be respected?
Pacts relating to future inheritance are prohibited in Belgian law (Art. 1130 Civil Code) but there are several exceptions, notably Articles 918 and 1388, subparagraph 2 of the Civil Code.
Are there other possibilities for settling a succession?
It is possible to settle one’s succession using various tools: will, donation (with or without a reserve regarding usufruct), gift, marriage contract or amendment to matrimonial property regime, insurance contract.
How and where can I register a will? What is the effect of registration?
Belgium has a central register of testamentary dispositions (CRT). A notary who records an authenticated will or executes an international will or with whom an holographic will is filed is required to notify the existence of this will to the register (unless, in the case of an holographic will, the testator objects to such notification). The will remains with the notary. It is only possible to consult the register after the death of the testator, in order to check whether he/she has left a will and, if so, with which notary; for that purpose, all an interested party has to do is transmit to the register a copy of the death certificate or any other documentary proof of death.
There exists on this subject the Basel Convention of 16 May 1972 on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills (Belgian law of 13/01/77, entered into force on 16/05/77)
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Successions in Belgium
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