How and when does one become an heir?
Last update: 10/1/2012
The estate devolves to the heir (or to the legatee or devisee) without any specific procedure, provided that the heir (or the legatee or devisee) accepts the succession or does not renounce the succession. Acceptance may be tacit, for example if the heir has the use of the succession property.
If the heir wishes to accept the succession purely and simply, he/she may do so implicitly or expressly without any special process. In general, the heir has unlimited personal liability for the debts of the succession. However, the heir can limit his/her liability by accepting the estate without liability to debts beyond the assets descended. If the heir wants to renounce or accept the estate without liability beyond the assets descended, he/she must file a declaration with the court. The court fixes the time limit for accepting or renouncing the estate.
The testator may, if he/she so wishes, appoint an executor, either for the settlement of the succession, or for the administration of the succession.
Is it possible to renounce a succession?
An heir may renounce a deceased’s estate. Once this choice is made it shall be irrevocable and have retroactive effect to the time when the deceased’s estate devolved. (art. 4:190 CC). The choice shall be made in a declaration for such purpose at the clerk’s office of the district Court of the deceased‘s last place of residence. The declaration shall be recorded in the Register of Deceased’s Estates, http://www.centraaltestamentenregister.nl
Is it possible to accept a succession subject to conditions?
Dutch law provides for the acceptance of an estate without liability beyond the assets descended, the so-called acceptance subject to the privilege of an inventory (beneficiaire aanvaarding of aanvaarding onder het voorrecht van boedelbeschrijving) (art. 4:190 section 1 and 195 CC). In such a case, the liquidator must, with due expedition, draw up or initiate the drawing up of a private or notarial inventory listing the liabilities of the deceased’s estate. This list must be lodged at the office of the civil law notary of the estate or, where there is no such civil law notary, at the clerk’s office of the district court for inspection by the heirs and creditor’s of the deceased’s estate (art. 4:211 section 3 CC).
Are the heirs and co-heirs liable for the deceased’s debts?
If the heir has accepted the estate unconditionally, he/she will be indefinitely responsible for the deceased’s debts (art. 4:182 CC).
If the estate has been accepted subject to the privilege of inventory, the heir is liable for the debts up to the amount of the assets he/she receives at the time the writ of possession is executed. Where the estate is divided the heir is only liable for the debts covered by the estate, but he/she is not personally liable.
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Successions in the Netherlands
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