Inheriting a person from abroad? Common questions

Inheriting a person from abroad leads to many questions. Not only do you lose a loved one, but you are also faced with both local and Belgian rules. Therefore, in this article you will find an overview of some common questions.

1. Where should I report the death?

Usually, you should first notify the local authorities. In Spain, for example, a doctor will first determine the death and notify the "Certificado Médico de Defunción" draw up. Within 24 hours, you (or the undertaker) should report the death to the local civil registry. In principle, in Spain, the funeral must take place between the 24th and 48th hour after death. After that, you will receive the death certificate.

You will also notify the Belgian consulate. You also have the option of filing the foreign death certificate with the civil registry in Belgium.

Find more information on consular assistance here.

2. Who handles the settlement of the estate?

The local customary authority of the testator's residence will be responsible for settling the estate. In Spain, the heirs will appoint a local notary to prepare the estate deed, usually in consultation with a legal firm. In certain situations, a Belgian notary can also be appointed for the entire estate.

3. Which inheritance law applies?

The inheritance law the country of residence of the testator applies to worldwide assets. This means that if the testator was resident in Spain, the Spanish inheritance law applies to the entire estate. However, if the testator made a will and chose the law of inheritance of the country of his nationality, Belgian inheritance law may apply.

Find more information about a Spanish will here.

4. Do I pay inheritance tax in Belgium?

If you inherit from a non-resident of Belgium, there is no inheritance tax. Only the so-called "right of transition" applies. This tax is similar to inheritance tax, but only applies to real estate. So if you inherit real estate located in Belgium from a non-resident, you will have to file the declaration of the right of transfer. Specifically, you will have to check in which region these properties are located and in which region the highest cadastral income is obtained.

If you do not inherit property located in Belgium from a person living abroad, you will not owe any Belgian taxes.

Read more about the term non-resident.

5. Do I pay inheritance tax in the country of death?

When inheriting a person from abroad, you will usually also pay local inheritance tax. Of course, the tax system differs from country to country.

Spain. If you inherit from someone resident in Spain without living in Spain yourself, you will pay inheritance tax on all property located in Spain. These rates and methods of calculation depend on the autonomous region. Here you can find more information on estate declaration in Spain.

Portugal. The same principle of Spain applies to Portugal. However, the Portuguese inheritance tax is favourable. You pay no inheritance tax on straight line inheritances. Other inheritances are taxed to 10%. Find more information on inheritance tax in Portugal here.

France. France looks at any direct or indirect link to French assets. Find more information on inheritance tax in France here.

Note: If you yourself are resident abroad, you will possibly also pay inheritance tax in your country of residence.

Do you have questions about inheriting from a person from abroad or the estate tax return? If so, please feel free to contact on. Confianz assists you with both the estate declaration Flanders and the settlement of an estate in Spain.

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