Are you looking for legal information about property law, company law or family law? Berquin Notarissen will be happy to help.


• Add a choice clause to your marriage contract and arrange your inheritance to suit your situation

The marriage contract and inheritance law are as inseparable as Siamese twins. If you are married with children and allow statutory inheritance rights to run their course, you may end up in a legal situation that you do not want after the death of your spouse. The remedy is to amend the marriage contract and introduce a so-called ‘choice clause’. This gives the surviving partner the freedom to arrange his/her inheritance. And there may be savings on inheritance tax too.


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• First the taxman, and only then the money from your inheritance

Notaries who issue a deed or attestation of inheritance in connection with winding up an estate have been required since 1 July 2012 to first initiate a search for any tax or social security debts. From now on, heirs can only gain access to the money they have inherited once they have paid these debts and those of the deceased. This system results from the Programme Law (I) of 29 March 2012, which came into effect in this respect on 1 July 2012. In order to get your assets in the bank unblocked quickly, we recommend a visit to your notary directly after the death.
 


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• Amicable dissolution of preliminary sales agreement: negligible costs and no lawyers required

It is quite common for the prospective purchaser of a property to have to (or want to) make a quick decision and to end up signing a private sales agreement too soon. Often, the purchaser starts asking himself questions soon afterwards: will the purchase be made by an existing company or a company under formation; will it be made alone or jointly; is it better for it to be made in the name of the spouse who does not have self-employed status; should it be made in the name of one of the children? In Flanders and Wallonia, this ‘hastily’ signed preliminary sales agreement (‘compromis’) can be dissolved at almost no cost. All that is required is to observe a few small but important formalities in time.
 


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• Quicker division of assets after a divorce or death, with a compulsory schedule

When joint owners, heirs or ex-spouses fail to reach agreement about the division of their joint assets, the liquidation and division of those assets will be ordered by the courts. In the law of 13 August 2011, the legislators changed the procedure, primarily with a view to ensuring that it can be completed more rapidly and efficiently. The new procedural rules apply to all cases in which the court proceedings were concluded after 1 April 2012.

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• Do you have a private foundation?

Have you by any chance visited the art collection of the ‘Fondation Maeght’ near the picturesque artists’ village of St. Paul-de-Vence in the South of France? And who is not familiar with the famous Guggenheim Foundation? In Belgium too, it has been entirely possible to create your own foundation for the past few years. A foundation is ideal for individual patronage and philanthropy projects. It enables you to set up your own charitable organisation. In this way, you can follow in the footsteps of historical rulers such as Catherine de’ Medici, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great or Joseph II, all enthusiastic promoters of art and scientific research in their age. We tell you how it all works and what private foundations can be used for.

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• Cohabitation: one name, several situations

If you are living together but are not married, from the legal viewpoint there are two ways in which you can do this. You can opt for a legal cohabitation, or you can simply cohabit de facto. What are the differences between the two? And is it sensible to draw up a cohabitation contract?

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• Giving gifts, yet retaining control: it can be done!

Gifts remain one of the crown jewels of well-developed asset planning. What you give away while you are still alive is no longer part of your estate when you die. As a result, your children have less inheritance tax to pay. However, the giver is often unwilling to give unconditionally. We describe the most common giving arrangements in practice.


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• Taking property out of your company

Suppose you have a property company with an ample portfolio of real estate. Is it possible to transfer some of these assets to your private ownership? And if so, how do you go about this ‘downsizing operation’ and what are the tax costs?

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• What documents should you receive as the purchaser of an apartment?

There is often more to buying an apartment than you might think. Through the purchase, you automatically become a member of the general meeting of co-owners of the building, and are required to contribute to the joint costs. To give you a better idea of exactly what costs are involved, the law obliges the seller to give you a number of documents beforehand.

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