Per 1 January 2024, Dutch inheritance law underwent a significant change. The statutory interest rate was increased to 7%. This is the first time in 20 years that an increase has occurred, and it has significant consequences for inheritances and inheritance taxes. In this article, I discuss the impact of this change and highlight what it means for heirs, interest clauses, and statutory shares.

What has changed in inheritance law?

Since 2003, the right of survivorship for married or registered partners has been in effect. This means that when one of the partners dies, the surviving partner receives the entire inheritance. Although the children do inherit, they only receive their share after the surviving spouse’s death. No interest is charged on the claim against the surviving spouse, but it is possible to add interest.

According to the law, you must add interest if the statutory interest rate is higher than 6%. Only the excess is added. For example, if the statutory interest rate is 7%, you must add 1% per year. This rule applies to both new and existing claims.

Interest clauses in wills

An interest clause is often included in a will with the surviving spouse regulation. Typically, this clause follows the statutory regulation, meaning that for an interest rate of 7%, 1% is added annually. However, some wills contain different interest clauses, such as adding the full statutory interest. In this case, for a statutory interest rate of 7%, a full 7% is added to the claim.

Impact on statutory shares and inheritance tax

Typically, the inheritance goes to the surviving partner, with the children inheriting a claim. In the case of disinheritance, the child retains the right to a statutory share, resulting in a non-payable monetary claim. This claim amounts to half of the child’s normal share in the inheritance. If the inheritance goes to the surviving partner, the claim is due after their death. During this period, interest is added according to statutory provisions, provided the statutory interest rate is higher than 6%. This means that from 1 January 2024, the monetary claim of a disinherited child will increase by 1%.

The statutory interest rate also affects the inheritance tax on the first parent’s death. The tax is not calculated on the actual amount of the claim but on the present value, taking the surviving spouse’s age and the interest rate into account. If the statutory interest rate is 7% and there is no will, this does not directly affect the inheritance tax. In the case of a will, the consequences depend on the wording of the interest clause. A standard clause referring to the statutory interest still accounts for a maximum depreciation. However, the recent increase in the statutory interest rate can significantly impact the inheritance and inheritance tax.

The increase in the statutory interest rate to 7% is a significant change in inheritance law

Heirs must now add 1% extra to their claims annually. Wills with differing interest clauses can have varying outcomes. Monetary claims of disinherited children increase by 1%. The statutory interest rate also affects the inheritance tax, especially if there is no will. It may be wise to seek legal advice to be well-prepared for the financial consequences for any heirs and statutory shares. 

If the share in an inheritance of a parent in your family has not yet been calculated and recorded, it is advisable to do that now. My colleagues and I would be delighted to support and advise you on this process.