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Inheritance law for expats in the Netherlands – key considerations

Inheritance is fundamentally a difficult subject to think about, but as an expat with family in other countries, it can be even harder as you have to deal with contradictory and confusing international laws during a difficult time. Here are some key considerations to simplify inheritance law for expats living in the Netherlands.

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Spell it out and let them know

When abroad, the death of a friend or colleague brings home to you how much trouble unfinished business can add to sorrow. For lasting peace of mind, dare to take the extra step and review the scenario you’d prefer in the case of your untimely demise: draw up a last will and make things easy for those you love.

Making a last will

A last will is too important a document to be done without seeking the advice of a lawyer or a notary. Dutch law requires a last will to be drawn up by a notary. One is also well advised to check if a previously formulated will complies with the new host country’s inheritance law. Your will made before moving to The Netherlands will be recognised, as long as the formalities required by the law of the country where the will was drawn up were fulfilled.

Choosing a country’s law

As the Testator, for the division of property and assets, pension rights and custody rights, you can choose a different law (one law per testament) to the law of the country in which you reside at the moment you draw up your will if:

  • you have the respective country’s nationality at the time you choose its inheritance law to apply for your case;
  • you have the respective country’s nationality at the time of your death;
  • you have habitually resided in the respective country at the time you choose its inheritance law to apply for your case;
  • you have habitually resided in the respective country at the time of your death.

Executing your last will in the Netherlands

In general, it will be possible to have your will executed in the Netherlands unless the will contains provisions that are contrary to Dutch law (e.g., in the case of a ‘share-testament’ that prescribes that a daughter inherits only half of a son’s inheritance).

Get help with inheritance planning

Our lawyers understand the challenges of dealing with inheritance while abroad. For advice you can trust, please contact us – our team will be glad to help you.

Using DNA to prove a hereditary right

A father has passed away and his estate has been divided when someone comes forward who claims to be the son or daughter of the deceased. Apparently, the deceased fathered this child without anyone (possibly not even the deceased himself) knowing about his or her existance. Read more