Ethical Wills – a Continental Law Perspective

Authors

  • Frederik Swennen University of Antwerp
  • Renate Barbaix University of Antwerp

Keywords:

Ethical wills, personality rights, estate planning, public policy, human rights, testamentary freedom, Testamentos éticos, derechos de personalidad, planificación y gestión patrimonial y sucesoria, políticas públicas, derechos humanos, libertad testamenta

Abstract

Ethical wills are testaments, or planning instruments mortis causa alike, that contain provisions regarding the deceased’s (non-economic) values rather than his (economic) valuables. The authors define and analyse the substance and form of ethical wills from a comparative Continental law perspective, drawing on Belgian, Dutch, French and German law. The focus primarily is on charges or conditions in restraint or constraint of (non-) denominational or family choices by testamentary beneficiaries; and in this context it is contended that both the doctrine of public policy (“ordre public”) and the horizontal application of the ECHR extensively restrict testamentary freedom. Nevertheless, the analogous application of estate planning techniques increasingly allows benevolent testators to plan their ethical legacy.

Los testamentos éticos son testamentos, similares a instrumentos de planificación mortis causa, que contienen disposiciones relativas a los valores (no económicos) del difunto, en lugar de sus objetos de valor (económico). Los autores definen y analizan el contenido y la forma de los testamentos éticos desde una perspectiva comparativa de derecho continental, basada en la legislación belga, holandesa, francesa y alemana. Se centra principalmente en los cargos o las condiciones de restricción o limitación de las opciones (a)confesionales o familiares de los herederos; y en este contexto se afirma que tanto la doctrina de política pública ("ordre public") como la aplicación horizontal del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos, restringen ampliamente la libertad testamentaria. Sin embargo, la aplicación análoga de técnicas de planificación y gestión patrimonial y sucesoria, permite cada vez más a los testadores de últimas voluntades planificar su legado ético.

DOWNLOAD THIS PAPER FROM SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2431115

Author Biographies

Frederik Swennen, University of Antwerp

Frederik Swennen is Professor and Chair of Family Law, University of Antwerp and attorney-at-law at the Brussels Bar (Greenille). University of Antwerp. Research Group Personal Rights & Property Rights. Venusstraat 23. B – 2000 Antwerp. Belgium. frederik.swennen@uantwerpen.be

Renate Barbaix, University of Antwerp

Renate Barbaix is Associate Professor and Chair of Family Property Law, University of Antwerp and attorney-at-law at the Brussels Bar (Greenille). University of Antwerp. Research Group Personal Rights & Property Rights. Venusstraat 23. B – 2000 Antwerp. Belgium. renate.barbaix@uantwerpen.be

Downloads

Published

08-01-2014

How to Cite

Swennen, F. and Barbaix, R. (2014) “Ethical Wills – a Continental Law Perspective”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 4(2), pp. 323–344. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/322 (Accessed: 23 June 2021).