My finances, my projects, my life
February 19, 2020

How do wills work and who needs one?

  Compiled by myLIFE team myWEALTH July 28, 2017 4963

The will is a unilateral legal act which, subject to certain legal restrictions (especially regarding legal heirs), enables you to divide your estate among the individuals or legal entities of your choice. Here is a quick overview of wills under Luxembourg law.

If there is no will, the estate is divided according to legal provisions. Depending on your marital status, particularly in the case of a civil partnership, this document can be very important in ensuring that your partner gets a share of your estate.

Who can make a will?

Any individual can make a will, provided that:

  • They are of sound mind and capable of expressing their wishes freely and legitimately.
  • They are at least 16 years old. A minor between the ages of 16 and 18 may only distribute half the assets that an adult can legally distribute.

Types of will

The will is a formal act which must be made in writing to be valid. There are three kinds of will.

An authentic will must be:

  • Executed before a notary and two witnesses, or before two notaries
  • Signed by the testator
  • Dictated by the testator and typed by the notary

A holographic will must be:

  • Entirely handwritten by the testator
  • Dated and signed

Finally, there is the mystic will, or secret will.

  • This is a written act, signed and hand-delivered by the testator in a closed and sealed envelope to a notary in the presence of two witnesses. The notary then draws up an authentic endorsement act which must be signed by the testator, the notary and both witnesses.

While holographic wills are the easiest and cheapest to make, having a notary draft an authentic will has the advantage of precluding any formal or substantive flaws that could invalidate your last wishes.

Whichever solution you choose, you can always change or revoke your will in accordance with statutory provisions. NB: an authentic will may only be revoked by a new authentic will.

Useful tip
Be sure not to store your will in your safe deposit box with your bank, as it will be inaccessible while the box is sealed. Moreover, following the inventory of the safe deposit box and the discovery of the will, the notary must put the entire contents of the safe deposit box, including the will, back inside, at which point the box will be sealed again. This means that only the notary will be able to read the will.

Who can inherit under a will?

  • Any person conceived no later than the date of death of the deceased, as long as the child is born alive and viable.
  • Any person not subject to a civil code restriction (doctors, nurses or chemists who cared for the deceased during the final illness from which he/she died).
  • Any person deemed unworthy of inheriting (e.g. someone involved in the death of the deceased).