International Inheritance Laws


Alinda Nicaj

April 17th 2013


Haiti is a Caribbean country and the languages spoken there are Creole and French. The Haitians gained their independence in 1804 but they adopted the French Laws while they were enslaved by the French. In 2010 Haiti experienced a powerful earthquake which ruined everything in their country, all the homes, businesses and more were destroyed. Haiti is one of the poorest countries with a corrupt government. They have to live off of a couple of dollars a day barely making ends meet.

Although this country is extremely poor and the people of Haiti have barely any possessions, they inherit French Laws which means they also inherit the laws of having a will and testament. In France, you have to be 18 years or older to make a will but if you are an emancipated child than you can make a will as young as 16 years old. Each document should begin with the words “This is my will” and then continue to state what it is you are giving and to whom you are giving it to.

In order to qualify to make a will, you have to have legal ownership over the possessions in which you are giving away in the will. You also have to be judged mentally fit because if the will is taken to court they have to decide on the testator’s mental fitness.

Under French law, which also applies to Haiti, it is not possible to disinherit your children in your will. Even if you were married more than once and you have multiple children from different marriages, you have to treat all the children equally and give them a share of your property.

Although you are allowed to make a will, the inheritance laws are restricted, a testator is not allowed to give away all of their property in their will. Whether you die testate or intestate, your property automatically goes to your issue and if you have no issue than it goes to your spouse. If the deceased is survived by one issue then the issue gets half of the land, if the deceased is survived by 2 issue then the issue get one third of the land, if the deceased is survived by 3 or more children than they can only give one fourth of their land to their issue. If the deceased has no issue, than the surviving spouse is only entitled to one fourth of the land, the remainder of land goes to the French government.

Although Haiti adopted French laws, the country is so poor and after the 2010 earthquake, there is really nothing left to pass down besides the land which they live on. The government has no real power or authority over the people so even if the poor people in Haiti were to make a will, there is a slim chance that it would be honored, the personal property would remain within the family but most likely none of it would be recorded. I assume that they rich people, although there are very few, in Haiti make wills which are kept within the family and honored. They follow the French laws for making wills but unlike the French, there is no government forces which will take the land away from Haitian families, the land and property stays within the family.