Arranging after a death

A loved one or acquaintance has died. In the first place, this brings a lot of grief. Especially during this sad period, many things need to be arranged. There are all kinds of matters, rules, obligations and administrative tasks involved.

You will find a checklist at the bottom of the page and through the link: What should I arrange after a death?

The funeral

Shortly after the death, you contact the funeral director. Together with the funeral director you arrange the farewell and burial/cremation of the deceased. The funeral director reports the death to the municipality. You will then receive a "Declaration of Death".

The funeral director can also find out if the deceased had funeral insurance. In any case, keep the bill for the funeral. You will still need it for the payment of the funeral insurance or as an inheritance tax deduction.

Note that the person who orders the funeral is responsible for payment. If there is enough money in the estate, the bill can be paid from that. No funeral insurance or no covered insurance? Then the funeral can be paid from the deceased's bank account. To do this, however, you must contact the deceased's bank. If insufficient funds are present, the heirs must pay the costs themselves. In exceptional cases, an appeal can be made to the municipality. If the deceased has no next of kin or the next of kin cannot pay for a funeral themselves, the municipality is legally obliged to provide the funeral.

Who are the heirs ?

If the deceased made a will, it states who the heirs are and what they inherit. If no will was made, the law determines who the deceased's heirs are and what portion they receive.

How do you know if a will has been made and/or is the last will and testament? If so, you can contact the Central Register of Wills (CTR). The CTR records who has made a will, on which date and with which notary. This way you always know what the last will is.

Any notary office can consult the CTR on behalf of the heirs or interested party. Only wills made in the Netherlands are registered in the CTR. Nothing about the content of a will is known to the CTR.

To accept inheritance or not ?

When a person dies, he or she leaves behind heirs. Those heirs are not only entitled to the assets of the person who died, but they also take over the debts. Inheritances can have not only a positive but also a negative balance. It can also happen that at the time of the testator's death, it is not yet known whether the estate is positive or negative. If you are an heir, you can choose whether and how to accept the inheritance. Each heir makes his or her own decision about this. You can choose from three (3) options:

  1. accept pure;
  2. Beneficially accept; or
  3. reject.

The three options are elaborated on below.

1. Pure acceptance:

The first possibility is to accept the inheritance. This can be done "expressly" (by a declaration of acceptance) or "tacitly." Once you have accepted the inheritance, you cannot reject it. Behaving as an heir can be seen as acceptance. A person behaves as an heir when he or she enters the deceased's home and takes things with him or her, for example. This does not include arranging and paying for the funeral. If you have accepted the estate, you are liable for both assets and debts from that estate. You can be sued for that with your private property. So don't take so many things from the deceased's home. By doing so, you avoid the chance that someone might unintentionally accept the inheritance purely and thereby become privately responsible for any debts of the deceased. If there are valuables in the house, discuss who will secure the items and put this in writing.

2. Beneficial acceptance

If there is doubt or too little certainty about the extent of the inheritance, you can also accept the inheritance "under the privilege of inventory." This possibility is also called beneficent acceptance. You then accept the inheritance, but in the unlikely event that the inheritance turns out to be negative, you are only liable with the assets of the inheritance. All assets of the inheritance must then be used exclusively to pay the debts. You are then not liable with your private assets, but you may also not have any of the assets until it is certain that all debts have been paid. Again, you should "not act like an heir" if you don't want to risk being fully liable for the debts anyway. There are some situations where you should always accept beneficiairy. This is the case when there are minor heirs or when there are heirs who do not have free control over their assets. There are also some formalities for this procedure, in which the notary can assist you.

The video below will give you more information about benefit acceptance:


3. Reject

The last possibility is to reject the estate. In that case, all claims to the inheritance lapse; the heir who rejects is deemed never to have been an heir. The inheritance of someone, who rejects, is then acquired by his children and, in their absence, by the other heirs called by law. This legal arrangement may be departed from by will.

Thus, if you reject, you receive nothing from the estate, but you are also not responsible for the debts. The right to reject also applies to a legatee with respect to a bequest. If you want to make use of the right to reject, you should make this known as early as possible. This is because you cannot reject once you have accepted. In fact, you cannot reject after you have previously accepted. Rejecting the estate involves some formalities at the Court.

If you want to accept or reject benefits, you have to make a written statement to the court. You can also arrange this with a power of attorney through the notary. Then you do not have to go to court yourself.

We can further inform you about the consequences of the options reported above.

Roadmap to settling estate

Settling estates is one of the tasks entrusted to the notary as an impartial and independent body.

The settlement of an estate then briefly consists of three stages, which will be explained below:

  1. the certificate of inheritance
  2. The inheritance tax return; and
  3. the distribution of the estate.

The three phases are as follows:

1. Certificate of inheritance

A certificate of inheritance is a statement drawn up by the notary public indicating who the heirs are. The conclusion further states who is authorized to act as trustee or executor on behalf of the heirs. The notary makes this declaration based on information to be collected by him. The notary must check a number of things before issuing the declaration. These include checking with the Central Register of Wills to see if there is a will, checking personal information with the Basic Registration of Persons, and conducting an heirs' survey. Once the notary has received all the necessary information, he can issue the certificate of inheritance. This can take up to several weeks depending on the situation. Under circumstances, it can be even longer. With the certificate of inheritance, the estate can be settled. A certificate of inheritance is needed, among other things, to dispose of the deceased's bank accounts.

2. Inheritance tax return

Tax may be due on what is obtained from an inheritance. This tax is called inheritance tax. The main rule is that the closer the kinship to the deceased, the lower the tax. The return must include a statement of assets and debts at the time of death. The notary public can assist you in preparing and filing the tax return.

3. Distribution of the estate

After the final estate tax assessment is determined, the estate can be distributed. Often heirs will be able to achieve the division by mutual agreement. In case of disagreement between heirs, the notary can advise and try to mediate. The notary is indispensable if an heir is a minor or is under guardianship or his assets are under administration. A notarial deed is also necessary for the division of real estate, such as the home.



Death checklist
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