An unaware heiress

8 June 2020

A new customer came to see me last month. A widow with long-grown and married children. The reason was her wish to use a small part of the equity in her home for donations to children and grandchildren.
The first analysis indicated more than enough space; the monthly charge was easily affordable and the space in the home value ample. I asked about the certificate of inheritance with which the will of her husband, who died 5 years ago, was executed. My client told me it was never made up. Her bank, the pension provider and other bodies had not deemed the certificate of inheritance necessary to preserve her rights that she already had with her husband as a joint beneficiary. The mortgage bank where her loan had to be increased was also practical: a copy of the will and a current confirmation from the central wills register that should show that the will is still current were sufficient to give the customer her new mortgage.
I have asked my client to think hard again, regardless of whether it is necessary for the mortgage bank, to have a certificate of inheritance drawn up by her notary. In that statement, it would be confirmed in this case that she did not reject her inheritance according to the will. Because it has not yet happened, she and her children remain heirs in the undivided estate of her husband. One hopes not for her, but if one of her children dies before she does, and the daughter-in-law demands her inheritance, a conflict comes and perhaps that will lead to the forced sale of the house to which the client is so very attached.
Above all, she did not want any risk of a conflict between the children and that is why she decided to have the statement made. That is not free, but not a waste of money because in the end the statement has to be made. I think that’s sensible.
Two more points. In recent years, the family has behaved as if the well-drafted will had been executed. That is not fiscally correct. This is still a point – dependant on each of the children’s situation – to ponder on. Fortunately for the client, she was not in a hurry to increase the mortgage, her mortgage bank’s competitive rates meant there was no need to switch to another, and her existing mortgage bank was flexible enough not to formally demand a certificate of inheritance. But that can turn out differently, I know from experience.
I am happy that the client can fulfill her wish and that we have prevented unintended, from family law point of view very nasty, risks by actually executing the will.

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