Succession handling (1/5): The Notary

After having been through all the necessary administrative steps linked with a relative’s decease, the deceased person’s inheritance still needs to be settled. Usually phased by a notary, this process includes five major steps. Let us dig into the first one.

First step: Making an appointment with a notary 

Obtaining help from a notary

Generally, the heirs choose to make use of the services of a notary to help them settle the succession, either because it seems simpler or just because everyone else does so. Indeed, a notary could easily get a first insight of the deceased’s estate, presumably via several documents handed by the deceased’s relatives (death certificate, list of assets, birth certificates...). Those documents will allow him to first draft an inheritance tax return and, later on, to carry out the preliminary steps to create an inheritance file, a crucial element for the settlement of the succession. A first appointment with a notary may also reassure the relatives as it will provide them with an overview of the following steps that have to be taken.


Inheritance tax return, huh?

After a decease, the heirs have to file an inheritance tax return to the tax administration within four months. This can also be done via a notary. This document is meant to be a photograph of the deceased person’s estate at the time of his or her death, be it his/her assets or his/her liabilities. It will later on allow the administration to determine the amount of inheritance tax that the heirs will be subjected to. Indeed, those are mentioned on the form, as well as the content of the will (if there is one). Should one of the heirs wish to disclaim his part of the inheritance, he or she simply has to file a so-called "disclaimer" and, as a consequence, he/she will not be involved in any further procedure.


Proceeding without a notary

In Belgium, you are not legally obliged to make use of a notary’s services to draft your inheritance tax return. Therefore, you are totally free to undergo the whole procedure by yourself. However, drafting such a document requires expertise and often takes time! If you do not wish to seek the help of a notary, you can still obtain advice from other professionals such as your banker, an expert in succession planning or a lawyer. Of course, the main advantage here is the cost. Indeed, you will not have to pay any notary fees, which are proportional to the inheritance, nor pay any other fees (administrative fees, mails, calls...). If you feel ready to draft the declaration by yourself, note that most of the required administrative formalities are free of charge. On the other hand, you will have to be extremely patient! Finally, do no forget that Morning Blue supports you throughout the whole process following a passing. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will provide you with the solution that suits you best. 

Check out all the articles from our series "Effective Succession Handling":

  1. Succession handling (1/5): The Notary
  2. Succession handling (2/5): The Inheritance File
  3. Succession handling (3/5): The Act of Heredity
  4. Succession handling (4/5): The Inheritance Tax Return
  5. Succession handling (5/5): The Distribution of Property