If the deceased was married, the surviving spouse inherits everything. Their children may inherit when the surviving spouse dies. In the meantime the surviving spouse is free to do whatever s/he wants with the estate.
If the deceased had children with another person than his/her spouse, these children may receive their inheritance immediately. They can also wait until the spouse has died before claiming their inheritance. If the deceased was not married, his/her children inherit everything. If there are no children, the parents or siblings of the deceased are the inheritors.
When a parent who has a child under the age of 18 dies, the child receives the help of an executor. An executor is a person who ensures that the child's rights are satisfied.
The estate is all the money and possessions the deceased has left behind. The relatives who has the right to inherit together own the estate.
Division of the estate, inventory of the estate and distribution of the estate
If the deceased was married and jointly owned things together with their spouse, everything must first be divided up between the spouses. This is called division of the estate. When the estate has been divided, the inheritance can be distributed.
An inventory of the estate is an inventory of the all the deceased's assets and liabilities. This has to be complete three months after their death and then forms the basis on which the estate is distributed.
A will is a legal document. The person who writes a will can decide themselves who is to inherit and what they inherit. But there are exceptions. A direct heir (the deceased's child, grandchild or great grandchild) has the right to demand their share of the inheritance.
A will must adhere to certain rules: It must be in writing. It must be signed by two witnesses. It is therefore a good idea to ask a lawyer before writing a will.
People who live together without being married (cohabitees) do not automatically inherit from one another. If a couple who cohabit want to inherit from one another, they have to write a will.
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