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Klaas Zondervan, Esq.

Probate Lawyer & Genealogist

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Dutch Inheritance Law

Dutch Inheritance Law, also known as 'Erfrecht' in Dutch, governs the distribution of a deceased person's assets, properties, and debts among the heirs. The rules regarding inheritance in the Netherlands are primarily based on the Dutch Civil Code.

Here are some key aspects of Dutch inheritance law:

Intestate Succession (If there is no will)

If a person dies without a will (intestate), the intestate succession rules apply. The estate is distributed among the deceased person's relatives according to a legally defined order:

  1. Spouse and Children: The surviving spouse and children are the first in line to inherit. If there is a surviving spouse and children, the spouse generally inherits the entire estate. If there are children but no spouse, the children inherit in equal shares.
  2. Parents and Siblings: If there are no spouse or children, the parents of the deceased and their siblings are the next in line to inherit.
  3. Grandparents: If there are no closer relatives, the grandparents inherit.
  4. Great Grandparents: If there are no closer relatives, the great grandparents inherit.
  5. State: If no relatives are found, the estate goes to the Dutch state.

Making a Will (Testament)

To deviate from the legal intestate succession rules, a person can create a will (testament). In a will, individuals can specify how they want their assets to be distributed after their death. There are specific rules about how a will should be drafted and witnessed.

Community Property

In the Netherlands, if a married couple does not sign a prenuptial agreement, their property is automatically considered (limited) community property. In case of death, the surviving spouse inherits their half of the (limited) community property.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax (successierecht) is imposed on the heirs based on their inheritance. The rates and exemptions vary depending on the relationship between the deceased and the heir. Spouses and registered partners, for example, are often exempt from inheritance tax.

Notarial Certificate of Inheritance (Verklaring van Erfrecht):

To access the deceased person's bank accounts or other assets, heirs often need a notarial certificate of inheritance, which confirms their right to inherit. This certificate is issued by a civil-law notary after verifying the heirs and the will (if there is one).

Please note that Dutch inheritance law can be complex, and it is advisable to consult with a legal expert such as myself when dealing with inheritance matters in the Netherlands, especially if there are significant assets or complex family situations involved.