No inheritance at death? Investigate donations made!

Published by: Fabrizia de Wit-Facchetti posted on 3 May 2016 reading time

It often happens: when the surviving parent dies, there is almost nothing left of the parents' assets. This while the children thought that their parents had savings during their lives. Where, for example, have the proceeds from the sale of the parental home gone? This is a question that I, as a lawyer, am often asked. It is a question that is often asked by the child that has had no contact with one or both parents in recent years and suspects that the sale proceeds in question have gone to other relatives. And then the search for the missing money begins.

Many people have the idea that giving away their own money will make their (disinherited) heirs miss out. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even if the inheritance is nil, heirs and even the disinherited children have the possibility to demand access to the financial data of the deceased up to years ago. In this way, it is possible to find out whether the deceased made any gifts during his or her lifetime. Gifts can be relevant to calculate the amount of the so-called legitimate portion. The donated amounts are added to the inheritance, so that this inheritance may no longer be zero. In other words, the legitimate portion is an amount to which an heir or disinherited child is still entitled. For example, the person who received the gifts may have to pay money back to a disinherited child.

Be on time: the right to claim the legitimate portion expires five years after the death of the testator.

Would you like to know more about this topic? Please contact Fabrizia de Wit-Facchetti.