Making a Will in Luxembourg
Key information to understand the various types of Luxembourgish will available; holographic, authentic and mystic will, and how to go about making one...
The purpose of a will is to communicate the wishes of a person with regards to their personal possessions and the treatment of their remains after death. It is a document in writing which states their desired beneficiaries (within the limitations of the law).
Luxembourg has a system of forced heirship. The testator may not freely determine who gets what. A defined proportion of the estate (réserve legale) must be given to specified categories of reserved heirs (héritiers réservataires). All children (adopted and natural) are reserved heirs. The remainder of an estate is disposed of without limitation (quotité disponible).
Under Luxembourg law, the defined proportions are the following:
- For one child, half of the estate
- For two children, two thirds of the estate
- For three children and more, three quarters of the estate
Qualify to Make a Will
In order to qualify to make a will a person must:
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Be judged mentally fit (sain d'esprit)
- Have legal ownership over the possessions bequeathed
- Not be under guardianship or sentenced to life imprisonment
Types of Will
There are three types of legally accepted will (testament) in Luxembourg.
- Holographic will (testament olographe)
- Authentic will (testament authentique or testament par acte public)
- Mystic will (testament mystique)
Formalities vary depending on the type of will chosen. A will can be revoked or modified at any time.
The holographic will (testament olographe) is a handwritten will, dated and signed by the testator. The advantage of a holographic will is its simplicity. However, the major inconvenient is that if the testator has not informed a family member or friend of its existence, there is the danger of it never being discovered. The holographic will should be deposited at a notary office.
In order for a holographic will to be valid it must be entirely handwritten by the testator, and dated and signed by the testator. It is not possible for more than one person, for example spouses, to make a will on the same document, or a joint testament in both their names.
Although not mandatory, wills should be registered with the Administration de l'Enregistrement et des Domaines (AED) for a small fee. The AED is a central database recording details of wills that have been declared at a notary or by the testator themselves. If the will has been registered, heirs can find out easily the existence of a will following the death of the testator.
- Administration de l'Enregistrement et des Domaines,
Dispositions de dernière volonté (in French)
At: 1-3 Avenue Guillaume, L-1651 Luxembourg
Tel: 44 90 5-560 (in French)
The "Authentic" will
The authentic will (testament authentique or testament par acte public) is made in the presence of a notary and two witnesses or in the presence of two notaries. It is dictated by the testator and typed by the notary.
The main advantage of an authentic will is that it is legally secure. The testator may also benefit from legal advice from the notary. If the testator wishes, the will can be registered at the Administration de l'Enregistrement et des Domaines (AED) for a small fee.
The "Mystic" will
The mystic will (testament mystique) may be typed or handwritten by the testator or by someone on their behalf. It is then signed by the testator, sealed and deposited at a notary in the presence of one witness. The notary draws up an acte de souscription authentique. The content of the mystic will remains secret until it is opened on the death of the testator.
- Information on wills from the Luxembourg Notary website (in French)
- Further information on wills from the Luxembourg Citizen's portal (in French)
Cancellation, Alteration and Revocation
A will may be cancelled or modified at any time. The testator can create a new will revoking any previous existing will or to make any changes. A new authentic will must be made in the presence of a notary. A new mystic will must be deposited at a notary office. If a will has been registered at the AED, the new will should be registered again.
A Declaration of Succession (déclaration de succession) must be made within six months of the death to the Administration de l'enregistrement et des domaines. Documents required include:
- The death certificate of the deceased
- If the deceased was married and had a prenuptial agreement, a statement from a notary to that effect
- If the deceased owned property in Luxembourg, a copy of the extrait cadastral which identifies the property.
- Information on the rights of succession and rates of inheritance from the Luxembourg Citizens Portal (in French)