Inheritance Law In Lebanon
1- Which Inheritance Law Applies?
The answer to that question is clear in Article 3 of the abovementioned law.
Accordingly, the opening place of the estate shall be at the deceased’s last domicile regardless of the place where the property is located.
The wife who is not legally separated from her husband, shall be considered as domiciled at the place of domicile of her husband, and the minors at the domicile of their legal or appointed guardian; in case they do not have a legal or appointed guardian, they shall be considered domiciled at the place where the whole estate or where its major portion is situated.
As for the domicile of the missing person it shall be the last domicile he had before his death.
The Competent Tribunal in what relates to inheritance issues are the first instance civil courts in Lebanon.
Shall not be qualified to inheritance:
a – The fetus who is not born within three hundred days following the day of the decedent’s death.
b – The dead born child.
2- Is there a Reserved Portion?
The Lebanese Legislator and in order to preserve an equilibrium in what relates to the Inheritance distribution has noticed a reserved portion for the closest relatives or heirs.
What remains is the disposable quote (Quotité disponible-in French)
This issue will appear of course in a presence of a will for instance…
In this case a will shall be reduced in what relates to the portion which transgresses over the reserved shares of the descendants, parents and spouse.
The reserved shares of the descendants shall be fifty percent of the entire real and personal estate. If all the children are alive, they shall equally divide this share irrespective of their number and without any discrimination based on sex.
If one of them is predeceased, his descendants shall replace him as regards the share that would have received had he been still alive. This share shall be equally divided between them.
The reserved share of the surviving spouse shall be thirty percent, while
The surviving parent shall be entitled to the share reserved for the parents.
In a case where the descendants concur with the spouse and the parents or one of them, the reserved share shall be thirty percent to the descendants, ten percent to the living spouse and ten percent to the parents or to the surviving one.
When the descendants are assembled with the spouse and the parents or one of the parents, the reserved share shall be forty percent to the descendants, ten percent to the spouse and ten percent to both parents or to the one surviving the decedent .
In a case where the testator leaves a spouse and parents or one of the parents, the reserved share shall be twenty percent to the spouse, fifteen percent to the father and fifteen percent to the mother.
The will that exceeds the disposable portion shall be reduced to that portion on the opening of the inheritance. Reduction may only be claimed by the heirs having reserved shares, their general heirs, delegates or successors.
For the purpose of determining the disposable portion, the value of the donations made during the life of the testator shall be added to his net estate, after payment of debts, at their value at the time of donation.
3-Is it normal and advisable to make a Will and what happens in case of case of Intestacy?
As for any country a will is advisable in case any person wants to distribute his inheritance.
Otherwise the inheritance would be distributed according to the law’s articles.
The inheritance will be distributed according to the following rules
The heirs are be divided mainly into three orders:
The first order: Children and their descendants.
The second order: Father, Mother and their ascendants.
The third order: Brothers, Sisters and their descendants.
Each existing order prevents the following order from acquiring rights in the inheritance with some tuning to that principle:
For instance, even in the presence of children the parents of the deceased will get for instance one sixth of the inheritance…
Should there be among the decedent’s children some who have predeceased him, their descendants shall replace their father in the decedent’s estate and receive the share that would have devolved to their father had he been still alive. This share shall be equally divided between them.
This process is called “Representation”
A will can be made through a lawyer.
The will drawn up in Lebanon shall be either authentic or holographic instrument. Will of Lebanese nationals in a foreign country shall be drawn up and legalized pursuant to the procedures provided for in the law of inheritance of 1959 or in conformity with the procedures, in effect in the country where it is made, concerning ratification of authentic acts.
The authentic will shall be drawn up by the notary public.
The will may be holographic entirely hand – written by the testator, signed and dated by him. In this case, it should be deposited, by the testator himself or his proxy, under sealed envelop and the seal shall be ratified by the notary public. Mention of the existence of such will shall be made in a special register. If the will is drafted in a foreign country, it shall be deposited with the notary public or the Lebanese Consul.
As concerns the will of a soldier in the battlefield, the officer, lieutenant in rank or above, shall act as a substitute for the notary public. This will, shall be considered as inexistent, after the expiration of three months dating from the day of the testator’s return to a place where it is possible for him to make a will according to the common procedures
4-During the lifetime of the property-owner, can property be gifted?
It is prohibited for any heir to “sell” or “deal” with his inheritance for 2 main reasons:
-The first is ethical since the person to whom the inheritance belongs is still alive
-The second is rational since that person is still able to dispose of his goods…
A property can be gifted during the lifetime and it is counted as a donation which will be taken into consideration when determining the reserved portion and the disposable quote.
5- Problems of Inheritance
In what relates to the real estate ownership, the issue is simple.
Lebanese Laws consider that the registration at the Lebanese land registry and getting the title deed is the ultimate proof of ownership.
Therefore, at the moment of opening of the inheritance the title deed and the inscriptions at the land registry are the key factors that matter.
International Private Law issues occur as well in the matters of inheritance whether it relates to Lebanese or foreigners.
According to Lebanese Laws the opening place of the estate shall be at the deceased’s last domicile regardless of the place where the property is located.
Other problems may occur in Inheritance process such as in case of If several persons who inherit one another, have perished in one accident.
In that case the court shall be required to determine the time of their deaths based on the circumstances of the accident, their age, health conditions, and other factors.
If it is impossible to determine the order of deaths, they shall be considered as having passed away at the same time and the estate of each one of them shall devolve to his living heirs.
6- Foreigners and Difference of Religions
The difference of nationality shall not prevent inheritance between Lebanese nationals and foreigners unless the foreigner’s law forbids Lebanese nationals to inherit him.
If the foreigner’s law prescribes certain limitations to the right of inheritance, accordingly, the foreigner shall only be entitled to whatever his law authorizes Lebanese nationals to inherit.
The difference of religion shall not prevent inheritance unless the heir is governed by provisions that prohibit inheritance on account of difference of religion.