Is donation entre époux useful?

Will this protect our individual interests in the event of one of us dying?

3 December 2010

In previous Connexion articles on inheritance, I have not seen mention of a method suggested to my wife and I to protect our individual interests in the event of one of us dying: donation entre époux. R.G.

Notaire Laurent Cozic, a partner in the Groupe Monassier, Dinard (www. said this is mostly now of interest where there are children from outside the marriage.

Before 2001, a survivor only had a legal right to full ownership of a quarter of the estate, the rest going to any children.

A donation entre époux (a special kind of will) could ensure the survivor got 100 per cent usufruit (life use and benefit, eg. right to live in a house or rent it out, income from shares etc) of the estate as well.

Since 2001, however, where there are children from within the marriage only, the survivor automatically has an option of taking 100 per cent usufruit.

Making out a donation entre époux, however, allows for both the usufruit and the quarter ownership to be conferred, Mr Cozic said, and it is still the only way to allow for the 100 per cent usufruit if there are children from outside the marriage.

The survivor will not own the estate outright and so will not be able to decide to sell it all alone. The donation entre époux will apply to all the estate if the deceased was living in France at the time of death and if not, to real estate in France.

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