What are the possibilities?
Under Belgian law three types of wills are allowed: a holographic will, an international will and a notarial will.
- A ‘holographic will’ is the simplest. You write your will yourself, sign it and put the date on it. Anyone can do this, even during a lockdown "in his own home". Discretion guaranteed.
In order to make sure that the will will also be found upon your death and will not go lost, it is advisable to deposit your holographic will with a notary, who registers it in the Central Register of Wills.
Also in these corona-times you will have to go to the notary's office to deposit your holographic will. There will be checked if you are indeed the author of the will you present, on the basis of your identity details.
- An ‘international will’ is slightly more complex and consists of two parts.
The first part is a private document that you write or type yourself, or can have drawn up by a third party, and sign. You can also do this discretely "from your own home".
The second part consists of a notarial deed in which the notary determines the handing over of the will in the presence of two witnesses.
This second part, and in particular the required presence of two witnesses, poses a practical problem today, in which notaries must work in accordance with the instruction to gather as few people as possible for a deed.
- A ‘notarial will’ requires that you dictate your will to a notary, who writes it down or types the will and then reads it out, all in the presence of two witnesses. After which it will be signed. Here too, there is a practical problem, given the restrictions imposed on the notary's offices.
During this period of quarantine, working with a holographic will is the simplest, since there is no need for a notary to intervene. It is more difficult to deposit it with a notary in order to ensure that the will is found even after your death.
Both an international will and a notarial will require the intervention of the notary and two witnesses. A part of an international will can be drawn up at home and must not be dictated by you, but the notary must supplement it with a deed of declaration. A notarial will must be drawn up at the notary in presence of two witnesses and must be dictated (which can take a lot of time when it concerns more complex wills, which is not always appropriate). On the basis of the guidelines of the Royal Federation of Notaries a temporary relaxation of these requirements was considered.
In a legislative proposal at federal level is proposed to temporarily lift the requirement of the presence of two witnesses at the drawing up of a notarial will (in a first phase until May 3, 2020). However, the intervention of two witnesses remains required if one of the parties is unable to sign the will or cannot sign or is blind or deaf.
Attention! The requirement of two witnesses is maintained for an international will.
Whatever form is chosen for the will, legal guidance in the drafting of your will remains important.
If you have any questions on this subject, please contact the authors of this article or via firstname.lastname@example.org.