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judicial and real estate hammer. the concept of division of inheritance

Settlement of an Inheritance: The Main Steps

Determining the heirs

There are two ways to establish the proof of beneficiary status:

  • The act of notoriety: This is the act, drawn up by a notary, in which the heirs as well as the legatees affirm that they have this quality, and in what proportion.
  • The certificate of inheritance in the case of a simple inheritance (less than 5.000 € of assets).

The liquidation of the matrimonial regime (if the deceased was married)

This involves identifying the deceased’s own assets and those common to the couple: half of the common assets are reintegrated into the inheritance to be divided among all the heirs (including the spouse), the other half is left to the spouse, outside the inheritance.

Opening the will (if applicable)

When the will is opened, the notary draws up a report describing the contents of the will and the bequests, which can be grouped into three main categories

  • The universal legacy

The universal legatee receives the entire inheritance; he is bound by an indefinite obligation to pay the debts.

In the presence of several universal legatees, the inheritance will be divided.

  • The legacy by universal title

The universal legatee will receive only a part of the deceased’s patrimony, for example a share of the property, a category of property (all the furniture), or a share of a category of property.

  • The legacy by particular title

The legatee by particular title is the one who will receive the bequest of one or more specific assets (for example: the car, a second home, etc.).


The choice of the option for the beneficiaries

When the will is opened, the three main categories of beneficiaries have several options.

1. The surviving spouse

In principle, they can opt for :

  • All of the existing property in usufruct.
  • One quarter of the existing property in full ownership (mandatory choice in the presence of children from a first marriage).

In the case of a gift between spouses, the surviving spouse can choose:

  • All of the existing property in usufruct.
  • ¾ of the property in usufruct, and the remaining ¼ in full ownership.
  • The available portion between spouses.

2. The heirs

Each heir may choose to:

  • Waive the inheritance.
  • Accept the inheritance up to the net assets. In this case, they are only liable for the succession’s liabilities up to the amount of the assets received.
  • Accept the inheritance outright. They undertake to answer for the inheritance liabilities, even if these exceed the value of the property received.

3. The legatee heirs

They have the same options as the heirs (2°) and can also opt to limit the legacies to certain assets.

The civil liquidation of the inheritance

This involves determining the composition of the inheritance, i.e. the assets and liabilities, while taking into account the matrimonial regime of the deceased, previous donations and sometimes life insurance contracts, in order to determine the mass of property that belongs to each heir.

Tax settlement of the inheritance

The filing of the Inheritance declaration allows the calculation of the inheritance tax and must be accompanied by the payment of the tax by the heirs and/or legatees.

In some cases, it is possible to ask for a deferred or split payment of the taxes.

The sharing of the inheritance

The act of partition will organize the distribution of the estate’s assets among the co-heirs and put an end to the joint possession of the estate.

This act of partition is accompanied by the payment of the right of partition, which differs according to the form of the partition:

  • Outright partition (distribution of lots of equal value): the right of partition will then be 2.5% of the shared net assets.
  • Partition with balancing payments and capital gains: registration duty for valuable consideration.

Our lawyers will assist you throughout the settlement of the inheritance. Our lawyers are at your disposal to answer all your questions and advise you. Our meetings can be held in person or by videoconference. You can make an appointment directly online at

AGN AVOCATS – Family Matters Department

09 72 34 24 72

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