In the absence of a will, the following principles are applicable to the various scenarios:
- If the deceased was unmarried and had no children, in principle the parents, brothers and sisters inherit in equal shares, with each parent always inheriting at least a quarter.
- If the deceased was unmarried and has children, the estate is divided equally among the children.
- If the deceased leaves behind a spouse and has no children, the last surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.
- If the deceased leaves behind a spouse and children, the children and the spouse inherit in equal shares, but the surviving spouse by law acquires the assets of the estate.
The estate is wound up on behalf of the spouse. Each of the children will, in the capacity of heirs, be legally entitled to a monetary claim on the surviving spouse. The monetary claim corresponds to the child’s share in the estate. This claim becomes enforceable if the surviving spouse is declared bankrupt or is placed under debt restructuring (also see the Debt Restructuring Natural Persons Act (Wet schuldsanering natuurlijke personen) or dies (Article 4:13 BW).
- Married spouses and registered partners are treated equally.