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Wills, Testament & Guardianship

Every international parent should have a Dutch will to avoid legal or tax-related problems, should the unthinkable happen. Very basically, international parents living in the Northern Netherlands should be aware of (at least) two things if they have not organized their Dutch will & testament:


If children living in the Netherlands are minors, and both parents die, a legal guardian will be appointed by the Dutch court. The family may not take custody of the children (yet). This is because the premise is that the courts will look after the best interests of the child. They will first go through the process of searching for a will and testament to establish legal guardianship – as the parents wished. This could take a long time if parents have not registered their will at a Dutch notary. It is also important to appoint an administrator/executor for the children’s trust.

This law will apply from the day you move to the Netherlands and become a resident. If you are not married, but live together and have children, a will and a co-habitation agreement are a must.


If you live in a foreign country, it can be so much more complicated if you die without a will. If you have lived (resided) in the Netherlands for more than 5 years, Dutch law will apply to your estate. If you have lived here for fewer than 5 years, your will from your home country is still legal (if it exists) and will apply. Consider all your assets in different countries and the different tax demands. It is helpful to have international tax and legal advice.

You may make a new will in Holland with a “choice of (foreign) law”, change the “statutory distribution” and appoint other heirs to your estate. However, it must be registered with a Dutch notary.