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What if my minor child is an heir in an estate?

reading time 3 minutes published on 01 November 2022

Your minor child may have been named as an heir in an estate of a relative or someone close to them. As a parent and legal representative, what should you do if this occurs? I would like to explain that to you in this blog. Please note that in this blog I assume that Dutch law applies on the matter.

Child designated as an heir in a will

As stated, it is possible that your child is listed as an heir in a will. In that case, your child is entitled to a portion of the testator’s estate. Also, the will may have assigned a bequest to your child, such as a sum of money or a particular heirloom that has been assigned.

Child by substitution heir

In addition to a direct designation as heir or the assignment of a bequest, your child may also become an heir by substitution. This is the case, for example, when you as a parent are designated as an heir and you reject the estate. Your minor child then (unless the will provides otherwise) legally takes your place and claims for himself the share of the estate that was initially intended for you.

Inventory of the size of the estate

When your child is designated as an heir or claims a portion of an estate through substitution, it is important to first take stock of the size of the estate. Is there a positive estate or are there only debts at the bottom of the line?

To properly consider whether you should accept the estate on behalf of your child, it is important to have insight into the size of the estate. If an executor has been appointed in the will, this person will be able and need to give you more information about this.

Making a choice: accept or reject an inheritance

If your child is still a minor (under the age of 18), you as the legal representative are the one who must make the choice of accepting or rejecting the estate on behalf of your child.

If there are two parents with joint legal custody, then you must make this choice together. If you intend to accept, it is important not to do this purely but beneficently. This means that the personal assets of your minor (if any) can’t be taken by creditors of the estate.

How to accept or reject on behalf of my child?

As the legal representative, you must make the choice to accept or reject on behalf of your child as indicated. If you do not reject the estate within three months of death, it follows from the Dutch law that your minor child has automatically accepted beneficiary. You do not need permission from the subdistrict court for this.

What you do need permission from the subdistrict court for, is if you intend to reject the estate. In that case, the judge will assess whether the rejection is in the best interest of your minor child. This is the case, for example, if the estate is negative.

Personalized advice

Has your minor child been named heir in an estate and would you like advice on what to do? If so, please contact me to discuss what I can do for you.

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