The conjoint legacy is no longer fiscally interesting in Flanders. Don't forget to check your will!
If you want to make a bequest to a good cause, whilst at the same time leaving part of your estate to your relatives, the conjoint legacy is a frequently used technique. Since 1 July 2021, however, the conjoint legacy has ceased to be an attractive option from a tax perspective in the Flemish Region.
What is a conjoint legacy?
With a conjoint legacy, you stipulate in your will that you wish to leave your assets to a charity. You impose two obligations on the benefiting charity:
- The obligation to pay a certain net amount to a person or persons of your choice.
- The obligation to pay the total amount of inheritance tax due. The charity thus not only pays its own inheritance tax, but also the inheritance tax due on the share given to your chosen person(s).
In Flanders, the conjoint legacy for deaths since 1 July 2021 has in many cases ceased to be an attractive option from a tax perspective. Following a change in the law, charities will now mostly have to pay more inheritance tax than the net amount they receive from the bequest. Logically, therefore, the charity will decline the bequest.
In Brussels and Wallonia, by contrast, the conjoint legacy technique is still an attractive proposition because the law has not changed in these regions.
What alternatives are there to the conjoint legacy?
1. Friends' legacy
To compensate for the ‘abolition’ of the conjoint legacy, a so-called ‘friends’ legacy’ was introduced in Flanders on 1 July 2021. This allows you to leave up to 15 000 euros to one or more beneficiaries at the low inheritance tax rate of 3% (instead if 25%).
- You must expressly record the friends’ legacy in a notarised will
- You can bequeath a maximum of 15 000 euros for all friends together, not per friend
- If you want to make a bequest to several friends, the reduction in inheritance tax will be divided among all of them in proportion to what they each receive
- The standard rate of inheritance tax will apply (up to 55%) on amounts above this total amount
2. Making a bequest to a charity
Of course, you can also leave a bequest to a charity in your will without a conjoint legacy.
In the Flemish Region, non-profit organisations and other charities no longer have to pay inheritance tax since 1 July 2021. Private foundations pay 8.5% inheritance tax.
In Brussels and Wallonia, the inheritance tax rate is 7% (in Brussels, this only applies to recognised non-profit organisations).
Still have a conjoint legacy in your will?
If you live in the Flemish Region and have included a conjoint legacy in your will, you are advised to contact your notary public to see whether or not you need to amend your current will.
Even if you have provided a safety net in your will, it may still be appropriate to amend the will to speed up the settlement of your estate.
When might the conjoint legacy still be useful?
If you live in the Brussels or Walloon region, a conjoint legacy can still be an interesting option from a tax perspective.
Have any questions or require more information?
Your private banker or wealth manager will be happy to help you.