When writing a will, you have to bear in mind that you cannot dispose
of the portion of your estate that is reserved to the residuary
legatees.1If your will makes provision for distribution of more than
the freely disposable portion (sometimes called 'the dead's part'),
the residuary legatees can claim that the excess should be restored to
the reserved estate.
What you leave someone under a will is called a 'legacy' or a
'bequest' (technically, land is called a 'devise'). The beneficiary is
called the 'legatee'. Depending on what the legacy covers, three kinds
can be distinguished:
A general legacy
You leave all your property to a legatee or legatees.
A legacy under general title
Here, your will provides for:
- a legacy of a certain
fraction (e.g. one-quarter) of all your assets or
legacy of all your moveable property or
- a devise of all
your immoveable property or
- a legacy of a portion or
fraction of your moveable property or
- a devise of a
portion or fraction of your immoveable property.
The beneficiaries are called
'legatees under general title'.
A specific legacy
A specific legacy is where you leave certain, identified
property (e.g. your grand piano or your stamp collection) to
specific individuals, who are then called specific legatees.
Only the general legatee needs to submit a
probate declaration. The general legatee and a legatee under
general title are under an obligation to pay the debts of the estate
unless the will makes express provision that specific legatees also
have to do so (you only pay those debts as legatee if you accept the