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ACCESS NL > Relocating to the Netherlands > Legal matters in the Netherlands > Netherlands death registration
When a person passes away, it is important for the relatives to make an appointment with a notary/solicitor as soon as possible so that all legal aspects are covered within good time.
The notary, after checking the Centraal Testamentenregister(Central Register of Wills) and other population registers, issues a verklaring van erfrecht (certificate of succession) recording the names of the heirs. Once in possession of this certificate, you can access the deceased’s bank and/or giro accounts (banks may block any accounts in the name of the deceased).
You also need to notify employers, insurance companies, mortgage companies, pension funds and so on.
The declaration of death duties and capital transfer tax must be dealt with within eight months of the death by the heirs/beneficiaries (or the executor of the will). An heir/beneficiary should realise that they are liable for the consequences of accepting the estate from the time of death. This means that the value of any stocks and shares as it was on the date of death will be taken to settle the death duties and capital transfer tax, even if the value has changed considerably by the time of payment.
It is also advisable to contact the Embassy or Consulate of the deceased; they will be able to inform you or help you in dealing with all the formalities.
Losing a family member is a terrible blow at all times and having to rush around in search of documents, statements and legal advice in order to take care of the settlement of the estate only contributes to the aggravation. In some cases, you have to deal with the law of both the Netherlands and the law of your home country, e.g. if you have possessions (a house, land, etc.) in your home country or a third country. Facing a death is a stressful experience, especially if it happens in a foreign country. If you feel that you need to seek counselling, ACCESS provides a Counselling Service Network. Click here for more information.
When registering a death you will need to bring the following documents:
Repatriation of a dead person to the home country requires the help of the relevant local Embassy or Consulate. Consular officials can assist you in having the remains returned, in obtaining appropriate documentation and in inquiring about the Dutch repatriation requirements.
If you are not a Dutch citizen and you already have a will that was made according to the laws of the country in which it was drawn up, in principle, the will is also valid in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is party to the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of International Will and usually recognises wills drawn up in another country. However, one of the conditions required is that the will has been drawn up in keeping with the law of that country. Verbal wills are not valid in the Netherlands.
It is advisable to consult a Dutch notaris (notary) who is familiar with the registration and execution of foreign wills so that he/she can check whether the contents of the will conflict with Dutch law.
The will is then filed with the Central Register of Wills (Centraal Testamentenregister), and you will be assured of its recognition and validity in the Netherlands.
If you want to make a will in the Netherlands and decide who is going to inherit your estate and other possessions you can do so only in the presence of a Dutch notary.
You can disinherit your child but, in the Netherlands, he/she is always entitled to a legitieme portie (forced share) amounting to half of the portion the child would have received in the absence of a will.
You can also disinherit your spouse and he/she is not entitled to a forced share. However, to alleviate the consequences of disinheritance, the law gives the longest living partner the right to a suitable level of provision; for example, a spouse may make use of the house as long as he/she is living.
You can also make a vruchtgebruiktestament (usufruct will): your spouse will receive the use and enjoyment of certain goods without owning them.
In the Netherlands, you can determine who your heirs are in a will and, in principle; the inheritance is divided according to this will.
If there is no will, the inheritance law will determine who the heirs to the person’s estate are. In general, if the deceased was a resident of the Netherlands, the Dutch inheritance laws are applicable, even if the deceased was a non-Dutch national.
As this is a more complicated matter, it is best to seek advice from a lawyer who is specialised in international law of inheritance.
Four categories of heirs are recognised in Dutch law: spouses or registered partners and children have priority entitlement to an equal share of the estate, followed by siblings, parents and nephews and nieces, and then by grandparents and great-grandparents, respectively. Relatives within each of these categories are only eligible to inherit property if there are no eligible relatives within the preceding category.
Each beneficiary can refuse the right of inheritance. This will likely be the case if there is a negative estate caused by debts.
It is also possible to accept an inheritance under benefit of inventory (beneficiair aanvaarden). If you accept an inheritance under benefit of inventory you are not liable for any debts, not even if you have enough assets to settle them. But you cannot dispose of the estate until it is certain that all the debts have been settled.
If the spouse and children were the heirs, the spouse would receive all assets and debts of the deceased person’s estate, and the children would have claim on their inherited portion. When the children reach the legal age (18 years old), they would be entitled to handle their inheritance on their own, but as long as they are minors, their living parent would be the legal supervisor.
Partners living together without a registered partnership do not qualify for inheritance, even if they have signed a cohabitation contract in the presence of a civil law notary.
If your children are minors, living here in the Netherlands and both of you die, then a legal guardian will be appointed by the Dutch court according to either a wish by the parent(s) stated in a will/deed or filed by them with the Gezagsregister (Dutch custody register).
This law will apply from the day you move to the Netherlands and become a resident. If you are not married, live together and have children, a will and a co-habitation agreement are recommended.
You can appoint a guardian in a deed drawn up by a civil law notary or in your will or by registering your choice of guardian at the Dutch custody register. The guardian who could be a family member or someone else is the person who has authority regarding minor children and he/she raises them and represents them. He/she also administers the children’s inheritance, but in case you think that this person doesn’t have the required expertise, you can appoint an administrator. You can also appoint an executor who will take care of winding up the estate on behalf of the heirs (e.g. taking care of the funeral, paying taxes, selling the house, etc.).
If you are not married, but are living together without formal registration of your relationship this can cause problems if you pass away. In such a situation your partner doesn’t inherit anything (unless you have laid it down in a will) and your partner will not be entitled to a part of your pension (unless you informed your pension fund about your partner). Legally your partner doesn’t have any rights.
In order to avoid this, it is suggested to officially register your relationship with a notary or -if you don’t want that- ask advice. A notary can help you.
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