Find out if inheritance tax in the Netherlands and Dutch inheritance law apply to your worldwide assets as an expat or non-resident.For expats who have relocated to the Netherlands, it is important to be aware of any Dutch inheritance and tax implications on your assets, inheritance or estate planning. Foreign residents living in the Netherlands can be subject to Dutch inheritance law and inheritance tax in the Netherlands on worldwide assets, although recent reforms and bilateral agreements allow certain foreigners to avoid this with the appropriate will revisions. This helpful guide, provided by SCG Lawyers, explains the essentials of inheritance law in the Netherlands and conditions for writing a Dutch will. It includes information about Dutch succession rules for expats, inheritance tax in the Netherlands for non-residents, and types of wills. Find out if inheritance tax and inheritance law in the Netherlands applies to your situation and how to protect your assets.
SCG Lawyers have a team of specialists who will advise and guide you in all matters relating to inheritance law. They are one of the largest family law firms in the Netherlands and work with clients in the Netherlands and abroad in all possible family and inheritance disputes with a personal approach.
Dutch inheritance lawDutch inheritance law is detailed in Book 4 (Law of Succession) of the Dutch Civil Code. The scope of this law is outlined in the 1989 Hague Inheritance Treaty, which states that it applies to Dutch nationals currently living in the Netherlands and foreign residents living in the Netherlands for five years before their death. However, there have been recent changes to EU rules which mean that EU citizens living abroad (in most countries) can now choose whether the law of their home country or their country of residence applies. If a foreign resident dies without leaving a will or making an official declaration on which law they wish to apply, the law of the country in which they resided for the last five years will apply.
Forced heirship in the NetherlandsDutch inheritance law includes provisions for forced heirship, which places some restrictions on how an estate is distributed. Under forced heirship the children of the deceased are entitled to claim 50% of what they would have received under intestacy rules if they are disinherited. Spouses and registered partners who are disinherited can also claim lifetime use (usufruct) of the family home or other estate assets. In the event that a person dies in the Netherlands without leaving a will, Dutch intestacy rules laid out under Dutch inheritance law state that the estate is distributed as follows:
- between the surviving spouse/partner and children;
- in the case of no spouse/partner or children, between parents and siblings;
- if none of the above, between grandparents;
- if none of the above, between great grandparents.
The rights of heirsHeirs have a right to choose whether to accept or reject an inheritance. As inheritance in the Netherlands can consist of assets or debts, heirs can also choose to accept only on condition that the assets exceed the debts. If an heir chooses to reject an inheritance, the decision is irreversible. Under Dutch inheritance law, the estate passes to heirs directly by universal succession, so there is no need for probate proceedings. If you own property in the Netherlands, details on how to register it can be found in Expatica’s guide to buying property in the Netherlands.
Dutch inheritance law for foreignersA change in EU rules on cross-border succession came into effect in 2015, allowing EU citizens or official EU residents to choose whether the laws of their country of residence or their country of nationality apply to their estate upon their death. This applies even if you are a national of a non-EU country. The rules don’t apply in Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, as these countries opted out. It will, however, apply to nationals of these countries if they become resident elsewhere in the EU. The EU provides details on country-agreements for cross-border succession. If you are an expat living in the Netherlands with EU citizenship and want the inheritance laws of your country of nationality to apply, you need to express this clearly in a will or separate declaration. These laws will then apply as long as they don’t contravene local law. This includes not discriminating heirs based on gender or if they were born out of wedlock. The EU rules do not apply to the following matters linked to your inheritance:
- inheritance taxes;
- your civil status;
- the property regime of your marriage/partnership;
- matters concerning companies.
Dutch inheritance tax and ratesInheritance tax in the Netherlands is levied on the estate of the deceased. It is payable on all worldwide assets of anyone who is classified as a Dutch resident for tax purposes at the time of their death. Dutch law considers émigrés as residents for inheritance and gift tax purposes for 10 years after emigration, however. Read more in our guides to Dutch taxes, doing an income tax return in the Netherlands, and claiming non-resident taxpayer status. Inheritance tax in the Netherlands is payable on the net value of the estate. This is the value of all moveable and fixed assets minus outstanding debts and funeral costs. The assets include:
- all gifts donated within 180 days before death;
- proceeds of a life insurance, if the law obliges the deceased to contribute to such insurance.
- Spouse/partner and children: 10% on inheritance below €124,727, and 20% on any inheritance above the threshold.
- Grandchildren: 18% below €124,727, 36% above.
- All others: 30% below €124,727, 40% above.
- Spouse/partner: up to €650,913 depending on pension values.
- Children and grandchildren: €20,616
- Sick and disabled children: €61,840
- Parents: €48,821
- All others: €2,173
Inheritance tax in the Netherlands for non-residentsCertain foreign nationals will be subject to double taxation, meaning they are liable to pay taxes in the Netherlands and their home country. The Netherlands has double tax treaties with several nations, however, to allow foreign residents to avoid double taxation.
Dutch willsIf you are an expat living in the Netherlands, there is no legal requirement to make a Dutch will. Dutch authorities will recognize wills drawn up in other countries if they conform with the national standards. However, if you are a foreign resident and you haven’t stipulated in your will that you want your estate to be handled according to the laws of your country of nationality, Dutch inheritance laws apply. This means if you have allocated proportions of your estate that encroach upon the Netherlands’ reserve that has to go to recognized heirs, these amounts will have to be reduced. It is possible to change a will at any time and it’s also permissible to have two wills: a Dutch will and one drawn up in your home country. This is possible as long as one doesn’t accidentally revoke or negate the other. It is best to consult with a solicitor first if you are thinking of doing this. Information on English-speaking lawyers worldwide can be found online, for example, Worldwidelawyers.co.uk. There are two main types of Dutch wills:
- Notarial last will: the most common type of Dutch will. Notaries draw up this will and keep it in the Central Register for Last Wills.
- Holographic will: a testator draws up this private will and gives it to a notary.