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Leaving a legacy

What is a legacy?

A legacy is a gift, ie., a commitment by which somebody leaves or undertakes to leave a benefit, without anything in return, to someone else. More specifically, they are gifts by which one person (called the testator) transfers to another person (called the legatee) the whole or a portion of his estate or a specific item or items from it. Legacies may consist of personal property (money, furniture, etc.) or real estate (an apartment, a house, etc.). They are expressed in a Will, which is the document containing it and which only takes effect on the death of the testator.

How to make a legacy

To create a legacy, one only has to draw up a Will. There are various types of Will under French law: a manuscript (or holograph) Will, a sealed Will and a Will drawn up by a notaire (French property lawyer) and formally witnessed. When you deposit your Will with a notaire, the notaire will register it, unless you object, in the central Register of testamentary dispositions. You are thereby assured that your Will will come to light, since any notaire handling an estate is bound to consult this register.

How is a Will drawn up?

A Will must be clear and unambiguous, both as to the subject of a bequest and as to the identity of its beneficiary. The testator may change or revoke his Will at any time. For legacies left to INSERM (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research), the Will must clearly identify it as:
Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale
It may also specify a research subject, a particular disease or an Inserm research training course. For further information concerning Inserm research subjects, you may consult the heading "Thematic Institutes".

What may be bequeathed?

Legacies may bequeath the whole of a person’s estate (general legacy), a portion of his estate (partial legacy) or a specific item or items from it (specific legacy). In the case of a general legacy, where there are ascendants or descendants of the testator, part of the estate, called the hereditary reserve or hereditary portion, is reserved to them by application of law. So far as partial legacies are concerned, the portion is defined by reference to a percentage of the estate or a type of property left under the legacies.

What happens after death?

The notaire handling an estate will inform Inserm of any legacies bequeathed by the deceased. After examining the Will, the legacies will be offered for acceptance to the Institute’s Board of Directors.

For further information
Contact the Département des Affaires juridiques (Legal Department)
101, rue de Tolbiac
75654 Paris Cedex 13
France
Tel. +33 (0)1 44 23 62 09
Fax. +33 (0)1 44 23 60 10

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