Succession planning How to increase the spouse's share of inheritance

A death in the family is a very emotional and stressful time. It can also lead to financial problems for the surviving spouse.

15 Feb 2018

In the event of death, if a married couple has not made any arrangements, the surviving spouse may face financial hardship because the joint heirs – for example their children – must be paid the inheritance they are due.

Most-favored clause as a solution

You as a married couple can enact what is called the most-favored clause, by way of property and inheritance law, in order to grant the surviving spouse the best possible financial protection. Since every family situation is unique, it makes sense to call on an advisor.

If you have not made any arrangements, you are subject to the marital property regime of participation in acquired property by law. This means

  • The surviving spouse receives half of the total acquired property of both spouses in advance, which includes whatever savings have been set from income earned during the marriage.
  • The other half of the total acquired property and the personal property of the deceased form the estate. Personal property consists of assets brought into the marriage as well as gifts and inheritances obtained during the marriage.

The advantages of a marriage agreement:

  • You can increase each other’s share of the inheritance.
  • You can allocate your entire acquired property to each other in the event of death under a marriage agreement. This reduces your estate to personal property.

More security for your surviving spouse

Testators can deviate from this and favor their spouse through a will or inheritance agreement. For example, as a spouse you could reduce your children’s portions to their statutory share and give the rest of the estate (5/8) to the surviving spouse.

Alternatively, your children can agree to a comprehensive inheritance waiver for the death of their first parent under an inheritance agreement.

What you should know

  • Formalities: A will can be officially authenticated or handwritten. Marriage and inheritance agreements, on the other hand, must be officially certified.
  • Increasing transparency: Involve heirs who are protected by statutory shares in your planning to minimize nasty surprises.
  • Pension fund: Benefits are paid according to the order of beneficiaries in the BVG and pension fund regulations regardless of the marital property regime and inheritance law.