6 What are the consequences of death?

In terms of the matrimonial property law: if there are no other clauses contained in a marriage contract or amending act, the common property is distributed fifty-fifty. The surviving spouse thus has in any case one-half of the common property in full ownership.

In terms of the inheritance law, the other half of the common property (and of the exclusive joint property between the spouses) also goes in full ownership to the surviving spouse if there are no children. If there are children, the other half goes in bare ownership to the children. Nevertheless, the surviving spouse obtains the usufruct. It is also possible to include specific clauses in the marriage contract that ensure that the surviving spouse is favoured after the death (Art. 1457 - 1460 CC).

The surviving spouse is also specially protected with respect to the inheritance law. Thus a minimum share (reserved portion) of the inheritance obligatorily goes to the surviving spouse. However, the surviving spouse always receives at least the usufruct of one-half of the assets of the inheritance. This half includes at least the usufruct of the real property that served as the common residence and of the household assets present therein, even if that value is higher than the value of half of the usufruct of the inheritance (Art. 745bis and 915bis CC).