“Out of sight, out of mind”?
And what if the present confinement period was the opportunity to prove this adage wrong?
The current health circumstances are temporarily preventing us from spending time with our relatives whereas they might actually be an opportunity to think differently about them, by rewarding them from home, through various estate planning techniques.
1. The holographic will
There is no need to go to your notary in order to draw up a will enabling you to derogate, in accordance with the rules of the reserved portion of the estate, from the rules of devolution provided for by the legislator by default. You simply have to write your last wishes entirely by hand, date and sign them, in order to make your document perfectly valid.
A lawyer can provide you with advice and assist you in arranging it in the best possible way, taking into consideration your wishes and your financial and family situation.
Thereafter, this will can be registered or not at the central register of wills, which has the advantage of offering more (legal) security (avoidance of loss, destruction, falsification, etc.).
Furthermore, it is worth noting that an amendment to the law is currently being considered to exceptionally allow authentic wills to be made without the presence of witnesses.
2. Donations of financial assets
It is no secret that many workers and structures are suffering from the current situation. Thus, whether it’s a well thought-out project or recently motivated by circumstances, making a donation can be a way to give a small financial boost to a relative.
A bank donation, as the name suggests, is made by transferring funds from the donor’s account to the recipient’s account (via a home banking application for example), while a manual donation is made by manual transfer. Be cautious, however, the neutrality of the act must be respected so that the term “donation” should not be mentioned in communication of the transfer.
In order to spare oneself proof and because it is a contract between two people, it is advisable to draw up a private document (such as a simple letter of confirmation or even a supplementary agreement) which establishes it, in addition to the possible acceptance of some of the charges and modalities relating to it. The involvement of a specialist in the drafting of this document, taking into account both civil and fiscal aspects, may prove to be of importance.
From a tax point of view, this donation is not subject to registration and is therefore not subject to donation taxes. However, in exceptional cases, the so-called ‘supplementary
agreement’ can be voluntarily registered by e-mail or by post in order to avoid the collection of inheritance tax.
Lastly, it is to be noted that the donation, in the event that it has not been registered, will have to be reported in the inheritance tax return if the donor dies within 3 years of the date of registration (in the Flemish Region, the deadline will probably be extended to 4 years in the near future). In that case, inheritance tax will be calculated on the amount of the donation, which is significantly higher than the donation tax.
3. Advice and insights on estate planning
Lawyers remain at your disposal to advise you (by telephone, videoconference or email) on any other estate-related matter.
If the notary’s office postpones the signing of non-urgent deeds – it is worth noting that some planning cases can be qualified as extremely urgent – this should not prevent you from taking advantage of this time to stay at home to get your belongings and assets in order, and to perhaps consider the usefulness of appointing an extra-judicial representative or having recourse to a comprehensive inheritance agreement or preparing a scheme for the transmission of your assets and anticipate thereby to implement it as soon as the current circumstances will be behind us.
“Out of sight, close to the heart”!
FLINN remains connected by your side to accompany you and advise you in the best way possible regarding these issues during these complicated times.