When, as an heir, you face the death of a parent, you may encounter a situation involving the deceased’s surviving partner, who is not your own parent. This can present a challenging situation regarding the division of the inheritance. Article 4.63 of the Civil Code provides a solution in such cases. It allows you to convert the usufruct of the new partner. In this blog, we explain in simple terms what this article means and how you, as an heir, can handle it.

Converting Usufruct According to Article 4.63

Article 4.63 stipulates that heirs can request a court to convert the usufruct of the surviving partner (who is not your parent) into full ownership or a financial compensation. This option applies when the usufructuary and the bare owners (the heirs) cannot agree on an arrangement.

What are your options?

  • Conversion into full ownership: In this case, the surviving partner can receive full ownership of certain assets, while you, as an heir, become the owner of other assets that were previously under usufruct. This provides clarity about who owns what.
  • Conversion into a lump sum: As an heir, you can propose that the surviving partner receives financial compensation for the usufruct. This can offer them a form of financial security. You, as the bare owner, gain full control over the assets.

Why is this important for you?

  • Reducing conflicts: Converting the usufruct through the court can help reduce conflicts and ensure a fairer division of the inheritance.
  • Protecting rights: This procedure ensures that the surviving partner is not unfairly disadvantaged. The court always considers the interests of all parties involved, including you as the heir.
  • Clarity about ownership: By converting the usufruct, clarity about the ownership of the inheritance is achieved, preventing future disputes over the use of the assets.

An important exception: the family home

Belgian law makes an exception to the conversion option for the family home and the household effects contained therein. This exception is intended to protect the surviving partner, allowing them to continue living in the house after the partner’s death. Conversion is only permitted if the surviving spouse agrees. It is important to keep this in mind when considering judicial conversion.

How to approach this?

When settling the inheritance, you want to ensure everything is done fairly and legally. The lawyers at De Groote – De Man have extensive experience in inheritance law and can assist you in determining the best approach for your situation. Whether you want to learn more about judicial conversion or need help protecting your rights as an heir:

Contact us today for professional advice.