How are property relations between spouses structured?

Marriage between spouses is governed by the Marriage Act (Marriage Act 13.6.1929/234). Property relations between spouses are based on the principle of separate property, which means that each spouse owns the property in his or her name.

Property can also be jointly owned if it is jointly acquired or jointly financed. The same principle applies to debts. The main rule is that the person in whose name the debt is owed is liable for it.

When will the distribution or separation of property take place?

Marriage always ends in some way. It ends either with the death of the spouse or with divorce. In either case, the community of property between the spouses is dissolved. If the spouses have a matrimonial right to each other’s property, the property is distributed. If, on the other hand, the spouses have entered into a prenuptial agreement, the property is separated.

Matrimonial property regime, prenuptial agreements and agreements on the future distribution of property

Under the matrimonial property regime, each spouse has a marital right to the property of the other spouse if the spouses have not concluded a prenuptial agreement. The prenuptial agreement therefore affects the scope of the statutory marital property regime.

There are different types of prenuptial agreements. Spouses can stipulate that neither of them has a matrimonial right to the other’s property. A prenuptial agreement can also exclude a spouse’s matrimonial property rights only in respect of certain types of property. A prenuptial agreement also makes it possible to exclude only one spouse’s matrimonial property rights, in whole or in part, while the other spouse’s matrimonial property rights are maintained as normal.

For a prenuptial agreement to enter into force, it must be registered with Digital and Population Data Services Agency before the divorce is filed.

An agreement on the future distribution of property allows for a very far-reaching advance agreement on the separation of property in the event of a divorce. It is a useful instrument, for example, for entrepreneurial spouses who want to ensure the continuity of their business despite a possible divorce.

Can the distribution and separation be agreed? Who is an estate distributor?

A distribution or separation of property may be carried out by agreement between the spouses. The distribution of marital property by agreement gives the spouses considerable freedom to agree on the division.

The distribution or separation of property may also be carried out by an estate distributor if the spouses cannot agree on the distribution or separation of property. In such a situation, one of the spouses can apply for the district court to appoint an impartial estate distributor to carry out the distribution.

The estate distributor has a very broad mandate to settle disputes between the parties, for example on the value of property, whether the property is matrimonial property or not, on the different types of considerations or on the possible dispute over the adjustment of the prenuptial agreement. The estate distributor can dissolve the co-ownership between the spouses by selling the joint property of the spouses – ultimately by an order of the district court. There may be a number of issues to be resolved.

It is possible to contest the decision of the estate distributor by bringing an action against the other spouse in the district court.

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With more than twenty years of experience, we offer our clients a personalised and client-oriented service in various areas of family property law. Whether your matter falls under family law or inheritance law, we always handle it efficiently, without forgetting the human aspect.

Family law

The area of family law usually includes financial matters relating to marriage and cohabitation, as well as child custody, living arrangements, right of access and maintenance.

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Law of inheritance and succession

Before proceeding with the distribution of the estate, a deed of estate inventory, which is a list of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, must first be drawn up and the estate must be settled. Only then can an agreement on the distribution of the estate be concluded.

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Inheritance planning

Inheritance tax planning emphasises the importance of properly prepared documents in good time. A continuing power of attorney is a document that allows you to take care of your own affairs over your lifetime well in advance. You can plan for the distribution of your assets and their tax treatment by having a comprehensive deed of gift and/or testament in place.

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