When you lose someone dear to you, you may have to quickly deal with several administrative formalities. Other aspects can be dealt with a little later. It's often hard to know where to start. We've put together a checklist to help you get through this difficult time. You can read through the full list or use our handy checklist setting out the main things that you should do.
What to do shortly after a death
1. Contact a funeral director
2. Register the death with the register of births, marriages and deaths for the local authority district where the person died
The funeral director will usually notify the death to the authorities for you. If the deceased died in hospital or a care home, the staff there will often register the death for you. You will need to provide the following documents
- A doctor's declaration of death
- The deceased's marriage certificate (if applicable)
- The deceased's driving licence (if applicable)
- The identity card of the person registering the death
The local authority for the place of death will draw up a death certificate. They will in turn send this certificate to the local authority where the deceased lived, which will make the definitive entry in the register of deaths and give you a certified copy death certificate. A lot of organisations will ask for a copy before dealing with the deceased’s affairs, so it's advisable to get a number of extracts.
3. Notify the banks and insurance companies where the deceased was a client
Informing us of a death is the first step to making sure the deceased's financial affairs are taken care of properly and smoothly. You can let us know in a number of ways, including online.
4. Get the help of a notary-public if necessary
Following a death, a notary public can help you to
a. draw up a deed or certificate of succession
specifying the deceased's heirs (which you'll need for things like gaining access to the deceased's frozen accounts).
In the case of an estate that involves cross-border aspects (e.g., the deceased lived in Belgium and had accounts in Belgium and a second home in Spain), the notary public can also issue a European certificate of succession. This document also states who the heirs are and offers the major advantage that it can be used to settle the entire estate, for both releasing frozen accounts in Belgium and settling the real estate aspects abroad. Ask your notary public for advice.
b. fill in an inheritance tax return
c. arrange the division of the estate
You'll need the help of a notary-public if the deceased left a will or had a marriage contract, or if any of the heirs are of diminished capacity.
5. Inform the deceased's employer or the pension institution
- If the deceased was still in employment, let their employer know as soon as possible. The employer will pay any salary, holiday allowances and other benefits that the deceased was still owed. They may even also help cover funeral costs.
- If the deceased was self-employed, notify their accountant who will help you inform the relevant authorities.
- If the deceased was retired, the pension institution will be informed of the death by the registry office where the deceased lived. So, that's one less thing for you to worry about. As the surviving spouse, you may be entitled to a survivor's pension. This is something you'll need to apply for yourself. If the deceased was in employment or self-employed, you can apply to the pension authorities in your local area. Other ways of applying for this are given at www.socialsecurity.be.
What to do after the funeral
Where applicable, you may also need to notify the deceased's
1. Tenant or landlord
Any rights or obligations of the deceased in relation to their tenant or landlord pass to the heirs, unless otherwise specified in the lease. Check its terms to see if anything is specifically provided.
2. Health insurance fund
Health insurance funds usually reimburse the person paying for the burial or cremation. If you ask the health insurance fund to register you as the widow or widower, you may be entitled to increased benefits to help cover the cost of health care.
3. Trade union
Most unions pay some of the cost of a burial or cremation, so it's worth looking into whether the deceased was a union member. If you receive unemployment benefit, your bereavement may affect that due to the change in your family situation.
4. Child benefit fund
This only applies if the deceased had children. If they did and you notify their child benefit fund, the fund will increase the child benefits.
5. Inheritance tax returns
If you are an heir, you must declare your inheritance to the tax authorities.
Has everything been taken care of?
- Vehicle Registration Office (DIV), if the deceased had a vehicle registered under their name
- Phone provider
- Water company
- Electricity supplier
- Subscription services or memberships
- Forwarding mail