By making a donation of goods to your heirs while you are still alive, you reduce the value of the estate which you will pass to them on your death, thus also reducing the succession duties which they will have to pay. A donation can bring significant tax advantages to the beneficiary, particularly if the sums given are large and the relationship is a distant one.

The gift of a movable good (a sum of money, jewellery, bearer shares etc.) can take place by a simple transfer from hand to hand. However, it is advisable to draw up a written document in two copies, one for the donor and the other for the beneficiary (so that the latter has evidence of ownership). This contract does not need to be registered: no registration duty will therefore be paid. This is known as a manual gift. But note: the gift will only be exempted from duty if the donor survives for at least three years after its date. Otherwise, the gift will be taken into account when the succession rights are calculated. It is therefore important to be able to prove that the manual gift did indeed take place more than three years earlier. If the gift of movable property was presented for registration, no further account will be taken of it for the calculation of succession duties even if the donor dies within a three year period.

In the case of the gift of real estate (a house, land) you must do this officially and via a notary.

If the gift has to be made officially by a deed entered into before a notary, or if you want to do it that way, you will pay gift duties, the notary's fees and the miscellaneous costs (stamp duty, research, mortgage etc.). Gift duties are calculated in accordance with the value of the goods and the degree of the relationship between the donor and the recipient. Gift duty rates are set by the regions. They vary depending on the fiscal residence of the donor.


More info about donations on (in French) or on (in Dutch)