If you inherit usufruit, that is for the rest of your life. Upon your death it extinguishes and the bare owners become full owners.

However, if you have usufruit, you can agree with the bare owners to terminate it for a price. You can buy them out or you can abandon your rights (that is called “conversion” of the usufruit), or you can sell the property together and split the price.  Moreover, if they are unwilling, you can oblige the bare owners to sell you the property or to pay you for the usufruit, but they can also oblige you to do the same.

 The value of the usufruit is calculated in function of the duration of the usufruit, and that depends on your life expectancy. To calculate the inheritance tax, the law lays down certain percentages depending, but in real life the percentages are a bit higher.  The value of the bare ownership is the value of the full ownership minus the value of the usufruit.

If you anticipate problems, you can deny your heirs the right to ask for the termination of the usufruit by specifying this in your Will that you deny them the right to ask for conversion of the usufruit. Conversion of the usufruit can be done by selling the property in usufruit or for one party to buy out the other.

However, there are two limitations.

First, you can deny your spouse the right to ask for conversion, but you cannot deny your spouse the right to buy out the bare owners of the family home. And if the heirs request that the surviving spouse ends the usufruit on the family home he/she can always refuse.

Secondly, children are protected against stepparents. You cannot stop your children from a previous marriage from requesting the termination of the usufruit held by your current spouse.  What is more, to protect stepchildren, the civil code states that when valuing the usufruit received by the stepparent, it must be assumed that the stepparent is twenty years older than the oldest stepchild.  That means that the usufruit will be worth much less in the negotiations between the children and the stepparent.