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The difference between legacy and legacy
The difference between legacy and legacy

Video: The difference between legacy and legacy

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In the legacy, individual items or assets can also be passed on to people other than the heirs. Here we explain exactly what it is and how it differs from a legacy from a classic inheritance.

A legacy can be, for example, amounts of money or securities, a house, a lifelong right to use an apartment, the interest income from a rental house or a pension. Thus, a legacy is not fundamentally different from an inheritance in terms of the type of estate. From a legal perspective, however, there are some peculiarities.

The differences between legacy and inheritance

The main difference between an inheritance and a legacy is that an inheritance gets everything. This means that the heir or community of heirs receives the entire estate. The legacy clearly identifies an item or financial grant that is to be transferred to a legatee.

For example, the legatee can be a friend or acquaintance. He doesn't have to be related to the deceased. The advantage here is that nothing has to be divided up and thus no conflict can arise between several heirs.

Another difference from the legacy is the claim. The legatee must demand the legacy from the rightful heir (s) here. If the will does not specify when the object to be bequeathed should be released, the heir can determine the time himself. In contrast to the inheritance, a legacy can only be granted through a written order from the testator - that is, through a will or an inheritance contract. If nothing is written down, there can be no legacy.

Der letzte Wille
Der letzte Wille

The testator can turn individual objects to certain people in the will - then one speaks of the legacy.

Photo: fotolia / nmann77

The legacy

An heir can also be appointed legatee. For example, if Grandma knows that the grandson particularly likes her vintage car, she can testify that he should receive this car after her death. It is then a so-called advance legacy. The testator can therefore turn an object to one of the heirs in advance without this being counted towards the inheritance.

The legacy

In the post-legacy, it is decreed that a pre-legatee receives or manages an item or the estate for a certain period of time and then hands it over to a post-legatee. A legacy can be used to plan the path that the property should take over years and generations. If the point of delivery is not dated in the legacy, the legacy passes when the previous legatee dies. A good example is the husband who, after his death, appoints the widow as a heir to the will before the money passes into the hands of the children.

Fulfill the last will

Rechte des Vermächtnisnehmers
Rechte des Vermächtnisnehmers

The legatee has a right to the item that is to be bequeathed to him.

Photo: fotolia / Viorel Sima

Heirs may disagree with a legatee. If grandma, for example, wants to bequeath to her younger lover the beautiful and also valuable old-timer of her husband, who had died earlier, there can certainly be arguments.

Nevertheless, the last will of a deceased person should be respected and followed. The legatee has a claim to the car in any case. If the deceased from our example did not determine when the car should be handed over, the heirs can annoy the young legatee by taking their time to hand over the car. In order to avoid a lawsuit or any trouble with the legatee, the heir should do his duty and hand over the legacy. It must be fulfilled from the point at which the inheritance becomes the property of the heir.

Claim the legacy

The legatee has a claim against the heirs, called a complaint, to surrender the legacy to him. If this is not done voluntarily, or if the heirs show no courtesy, the legatee can first warn them. The written request for the surrender of the legacy is sufficient for this. If the reminder is not fruitful, then only the way of complaint remains. Here heirs can count on being held liable for the delay. This means that default interest may also have to be paid. If the legacy is linked to charges such as a mortgage on the property to be bequeathed, then these are also transferred to the legatee.

Who pays inheritance tax?

The acquisition of assets through a legacy is subject to the rules of inheritance tax. If the testator leaves a legacy in his will and, for example, bequeaths the doll's house to the mother or a sum of money to his smallest granddaughter, this process triggers inheritance tax. How much tax has to be paid or whether anything has to be paid at all, like any other inheritance, depends on the tax class, the tax rates and the allowances. In principle, the legatee is the debtor. The heir has the right to deduct the legacy from the estate value, thereby reducing its own taxes.

If the testator intends to send the legacy to the legatee as a net value, he can testify that the tax liability is not based on the heir but on the legatee. It should be noted, however, that until the estate is finally divided among the various parties, the heir is liable and not the legatee. This means that heirs have to pay the entire inheritance tax up to this point and not just the share for their own inheritance. If an heir is not sure whether a legatee will pay for the inheritance tax, he has the option of not paying the legacy in full. Until it is clarified whether payment is made, he can withhold a portion equal to the inheritance tax - as a deposit.

Kein Vermächtnis
Kein Vermächtnis

A relationship does not have to be assumed. If the legatee is at the same time entitled to compulsory part, he can choose between compulsory part and legacy.

Photo: MEV

How does a legacy relate to the mandatory part?

If the grandmother intends to disinherit one of her heirs, she unfortunately has no chance to take away the right to the compulsory portion with a legacy. The compulsory portion always amounts to half of what the disinherited person would have received according to the legal succession. After the grandmother has died, the beneficiary has been disinherited in time and receives a legacy instead, he has the choice:

  • He refuses the legacy and demands the compulsory portion
  • He accepts the legacy. However, if the legacy is less than the mandatory portion, the legatee can request the difference between the mandatory portion and the legacy (residual portion).

What is important for the disinherited is the amount of the estate. Only if he knows the total can he make a sensible decision. So that the heir does not remain on legacies and other problems for too long, he can give the disinherited a deadline for a decision. The duration of the period depends on the specific case and varies. If the disinherited person has not decided for or against the legacy within the period, the legacy is deemed to have been refused.

If the grandmother has another legacy in her will, for someone outside the family (legatee without the right to participate in the compulsory portion), he must participate in the payment of the compulsory portion - with half of his legacy.

Example: The estate is 100, 000 euros, the mandatory portion is 50, 000 euros and the legatee receives 20, 000 euros. The legatee has to participate in the compulsory portion with 50 percent of his legacy - i.e. 10, 000 euros. In other words, the heir does not have to pay the legatee 20, 000 euros, but only 10, 000 euros.

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