Winding-up after inheritance or divorce

A separation or the passing of a loved one is a difficult phase in one’s life. There is a lot involved, firstly emotionally but also financially. What happens to the assets? How do we distribute the cash? A lawyer can help you.

When do you hire a lawyer in the event of a separation or inheritance?

A lawyer is a partial counsel. He or she is a legal professional, member of a bar association regulated by law and subject to a strict deontology and professional secrecy. A lawyer only defends your interests.

Winding-up an inheritance

If an estate must be divided among several heirs, it is wise to get well informed in advance. You can do this based on the questions below.

  • Should I accept or reject an inheritance? What are the risks of an acceptance? With an unconditional acceptance you may be held liable for the debts of the deceased.

  • When do I have to file an inheritance tax declaration? An inheritance must be declared with the competent tax authorities. In principle, you have 4 months to do this, calculated from the date of death. You will find the declaration forms online Sometimes an inheritance tax declaration can be complex. Get advice from a tax lawyer if necessary.

  • Did the deceased (the testator) make gifts? And if so: what and to whom? The deceased’s spouses and children are protected heirs. They may therefore be entitled to part of this gift. In addition, it is possible that an earlier gift by the deceased must be set off against the later inheritance, so that all heirs are treated equally.

  • Does the deceased have assets abroad? In that case, there may also be some form of inheritance tax abroad.

  • Did the deceased declare all income during his lifetime? If this is not the case, a voluntary disclosure may be necessary.

  • Did the deceased draft a will, or maybe even several? Is the text clear? Has the deceased revoked an older will in a later will? You can request a search online in the central register of wills (CRT) or ask FB-tax to inquire for you.

  • What are the pitfalls of the “fiction provisions” in the Belgian inheritance tax code? Example 1: if the deceased made a gift in the 3 years before passing – on which no gift tax was paid – you must pay inheritance tax on it. Example 2: If the deceased has sold real estate or has received a sum through a registered deed in the 3 years before his death, the tax authorities will check whether that sum can be found in the inheritance tax declaration. If this is not the case, the legal presumption is that inheritance tax must be paid on that sum.

  • What if after many years a life insurance policy (or other asset) emerges of which you are the beneficiary? Do you always have to file an inheritance tax declaration? It must first be ascertained whether the inheritance tax is still due, or whether there is a prescription.

  • What if another heir does not pay his share of the inheritance tax? Can the tax authorities turn against me? How much do I possibly have to pay? The answer to this question differs: are you an intestate heir or a testamentary heir (legatee)? In the latter situation, are you a general legatee or not? If you are a legal heir or a general legatee, the tax authorities could turn against you in proportion to your share in the estate.

Winding-up after divorce or separation

The most important question to be answered is often:

  • Which issues must be settled between the ex-partners? In case of a separation of partners or a divorce of spouses, it is important to determine what needs to be settled and divided. For example, one of the partners has invested own money in the joint home or in the home of the other. Conversely, a debt of one partner may have been paid with joint money or with money from the other.

  • Am I entitled to part of my ex-partner’s group insurance? For those who are married without a marriage contract or under a contractual community regime, the view in Belgian case law is that the future insurance benefit should be divided between the spouses, if and to the extent that contributions were made during the marriage.

  • Do you suspect that certain goods or money have been hidden? Even in such an extreme case, the law can come to your aid.

How do we handle your question?

We provide structure (what first), involve the important aspects of the issue and give advice. If necessary, we will assist you in court proceedings.


Would you like to inquire whether we can solve the issue? Please feel free to contact us.