You have lost someone dear to you. As next of kin, you will have to deal with a number of administrative formalities in a short space of time. Certain other items can be postponed for the time being. But what if you don't know where to start?
Checklist - What to do in the event of a death
Our checklist will help you map out the action points that are relevant to you.
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Confirmation of the death
All deaths must be officially confirmed by a doctor, who is
responsible for drafting the death certificate.
The undertaker will help you to make all the practical arrangements for the funeral. You will need a list of addresses for the people you want to invite. Remember to choose readings, music, photos, etc.
The municipality in which the person died will make an entry in the death registry. You will receive a statement of this. You should also ask for a number of copies at this point, as you will need them to inform various authorities.
In practice, the undertaker will take care of the declaration. If the death takes place at hospital or in a care institution, the responsible person at that institution will often make the declaration.
Bank and insurance company
In order to quickly settle the deceased person's banking and insurance affairs, it is important for the death to be reported to the person's banks and insurance companies as soon as possible.
Make yourself known as next of kin. This is needed in order to be added as a possible heir in the estate file.
The appointment of a notary-public is mandatory whenever a will, a pre-nuptial agreement or an heir who lacks the legal capacity to act is involved.
The notary-public can also help to determine who the heirs are, submit a tax return and/or distribute the estate.
Employer or pension provider
If the deceased person was still working, you should inform their employer of their death as soon as possible.
If the person was self-employed, you should contact their accountant as they can help you to inform all of the necessary authorities.
If the deceased person was your spouse, then under certain conditions you may have the right to a survivor's pension.
In the event of the death of one or both of their parents, dependent children may have the right to increased child benefit in the form of the so-called orphan benefit. The National Companies Register will automatically inform the child benefit fund of the death, and the increased benefit will be paid from the month following the death onwards.
You should inform the children's school, college or university. The educational institution will often provide additional guidance and support.
Dependent children may have the right to an increased educational grant in the event of the death of one of their parents. The educational institution will provide you with more information about this.
If you are unable to look after the deceased person's pets, you should look for a suitable home for them.
If the animal is registered in the deceased person's name (for example with a microchip or tattoo), you should arrange to have its identification details modified.
Salaries and other remuneration
When an employed person dies, their salary, holiday pay, thirteenth month and other remuneration will generally still need to be paid out. Supplementary compensation will also be paid out in the event of an accident at work or on the way to work. Some employers will even help cover the funeral expenses.
Contact the employer to find out whether or not the deceased person was registered for group insurance, and if so, inform the insurance company involved. They will pay out the capital and/or interest to those entitled to it.
If the deceased person received a replacement income, you should report their death to the institution paying out that replacement income. This might be the unemployment insurance fund, the health insurance fund or the OCMW (the Public Centre for Social Welfare). The replacement income of the surviving partner may be adjusted as a result of the death.
Check whether or not the deceased person had funeral insurance. This can significantly reduce the cost of the funeral. At KBC Brussels, you can submit invoices for funeral expenses up to 40 days after the funeral takes place.
Most trade unions will pay for a share of the funeral or cremation expenses.
Health insurance fund
The health insurance fund will generally pay out compensation for funeral or cremation expenses. As a widow or widower, you may have the right to increased compensation for health-care costs.
If the the deceased person owned their own home, you can sell it or allow it to be occupied by a next of kin. If the deceased person rented their home, the tenant's rights and obligations are transferred to their heirs, unless otherwise specified in the lease contract.
You should also decide what should happen to any second homes, garages and/or student rooms.
If the deceased person rented out a property, the landlord's rights and obligations are transferred to their heirs, unless otherwise specified in the lease contract.
Utilities such as water, gas, electricity, telephone, TV and internet will remain payable after death. You should report the death to any utility companies sending correspondence addressed to the deceased person. You should also decide whether or not you will personally take over the utilities, terminate the contracts, or opt for the tariffs for vacant property.
You should contact the appropriate suppliers in order to terminate any contracts relating to the maintenance of the deceased person's home – such as any cleaners with service vouchers, a boiler maintenance contract, etc. This will prevent them from being tacitly renewed.
There are often a number of fixed costs to meet, such as subscriptions to newspapers or magazines, memberships in clubs and associations, etc. These contracts are often paid by means of a direct debit or a standing order. It is best to cancel these as soon as possible. In some cases, you may be able to recover a proportion of the membership or subscription fees that have already been paid. You may also be able to take the contract over.
As an heir, you have the right to take over or sell any vehicle registered under the name of the deceased person.
- Are you selling the vehicle? If so, you should return the registration plate to the Vehicle Registration Office (Directie Inschrijvingen Voertuigen, or DIV) in order to be able to cancel the associated car insurance policy
- Are you taking over the vehicle as a surviving partner, legal cohabitant, son or daughter of the deceased? If so, you should have the registration plate transferred to your name and modify the car insurance policy accordingly
If the deceased person has not left a will, the heirs will be determined according to succession law.
You can either accept the inheritance or estate, reject it, or accept it subject to an inventory. If you accept the estate, you must declare it to the tax authorities. The tax authorities will use this declaration to determine how much inheritance tax you must pay.
The bank can only release the deceased person's accounts and safe deposit boxes once it has submitted its own tax return and once all the heirs have been identified, when there are no social security or tax liabilities, and the heirs are agreed on the asset distribution.
A final personal tax return must be submitted on behalf of the