January 01, 2018

Disinheritance vs. Forced Heirship : A Comparative Study Between the Succession Regimes of the United States and France

Elaine Lam

“Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children,” writes Mark Zuckerberg in “A Letter to Our Daughter.” He continues, “But once we understand the world we can create for your generation, we have a responsibility as a society to focus our investments on the future to make this reality.” Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, with the help of U.S. succession regimes allowing testamentary freedom, can invest much of their wealth into the public sector, rather than within their family, to address inequalities in society created by inherited capital. In France, however, this kind of decision would be prohibited under its succession regime of forced heirship articulated in article 913 of the French Civil Code. Zuckerberg and Chan would need to pass down a larger share of their fortune to their daughter and thus miss the opportunity to create greater good.

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