27 February 2020

Drawing up a will in the Netherlands

By Sieta Autar-Matawlie

In many countries, it is normal to contact a lawyer when you need to make a will - but in the Netherlands, the rules are different.

Learn how a notary can help and why you do not need a lawyer to make a will.

This post was reviewed and updated on 13 October 2020

What is a will?

A will (also called a last will and testament) can record what happens to the estate/inheritance after death. A will can also be used to record your wishes regarding a funeral and who should handle your legacy.

Why make a will?

If no will has been made (known as dying intestate), then inheritance law will apply. Cohabitants who are not married to each other and who have not entered into a registered partnership do not inherit from each other. The estate/inheritance will then go to the legal heirs: children, brother, sister or parents.

If you make a will, you can choose to deviate from the inheritance law and, for example, designate a cohabiting partner as the heir, arrange child custody, or appoint an executor. A spouse or child can also be disinherited in a will.

How to make a will in the Netherlands: contact a notary

In many countries, it is customary to have a will written by a lawyer or solicitor.

In the Netherlands, however, only civil-law notaries are authorised to draw up a will and register it (make it official). Anyone who lives in the Netherlands and is 16 years or older may draw up a will at the notary.

GMW lawyers cannot and may not prepare wills. We can of course refer you to a notary from our network.

When to contact a lawyer about inheritance

Settling an inheritance is not always a simple job. Inheritance law is a specialist area of law with a multitude of its own special rules. In addition, the complexity of family relationships has increased considerably in recent years, because there are more often stepparents, stepchildren or half-brother and sisters.

While a lawyer is not involved in making a will, they can assist you with related subjects such as:

  • Settlement of an international inheritance
  • Disagreement among heirs
  • Disinheritance
  • Guardianship
  • Legal representation in court (litigation)
  • Estate planning: continuity of the company, gifting to heirs, exclusion clauses

Making a will – contact a notary

If you need help with making a will in the Netherlands, please contact a notary for assistance.



This weblog was written in close collaboration with Bianca Kok-Beekhuizen, legal assistant in the family and inheritance law section. For more information, you can contact Sieta Autar-Matawlie or Bianca Kok-Beekhuizen (070-3114064).

Sieta Autar-Matawlie

Sieta Autar-Matawlie

Lawyer / associate partner / estate planner / executeur

Sieta Autar-Matawlie has extensive experience in the field of inheritance.

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