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Inheritance and administration of estates abroad

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs may render assistance in finding a local lawyer aboard.

According to current Danish rules, the estate of a deceased person shall be administered in the country in which the deceased was a resident at the time of death. Consequently, a Danish probate court has only jurisdiction to administer the estate of a deceased person provided the deceased was a resident in Denmark.

According to the Danish Ministry of Justice, a person is a resident of the country in which the person concerned or the household of the person concerned has their permanent home, where their possessions are normally situated, and where the person resides except for when the person concerned resides temporarily elsewhere for special reasons (for example due to leisure, study or business travel, illness, or the serving of a prison sentence).

Please be aware that the rules governing inheritance and administration of estates vary from one country to another. In some countries the principle applies, for example, that property left shall be administered in the country where the property is situated, irrespective of where the deceased was domiciled. Consequently, real property must often be administered in the country in which the property is situated.

It shall be a judicial decision whether the probate court considers the deceased to be a resident of Denmark under the Danish Administration of the Estates of Deceased Persons Act. As of 1 July 2014, a Danish probate court shall decide, on application, whether the estate of a deceased person abroad may be referred to administration before a court in Denmark. Please find more information (in Danish) on the website of the Danish Ministry of Justice

Both in Denmark and abroad, inheritance and the administration of the estates of deceased persons are administered by probate courts, lawyers and legal professionals. Therefore, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends that you make use of a local lawyer in connection with the handling of an estate abroad.

Danish Embassies may render assistance in finding a local lawyer. If Denmark has no Embassy in the country in question, the Embassy that covers the country may for example establish contact with a Danish Honorary Consul in the country who may also help find a local lawyer.

Please find contact information about Danish Embassies in the overview of Missions Abroad.

What can the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs do to render assistance?

In connection with matters of inheritance and administration of estates abroad, including the administration of the estates of deceased persons connected with foreign countries, Danish Embassies and Honorary Consulates are normally only entitled to refer to and establish contact with relevant legal professionals, lawyers, investigation services, genealogists, archives and the like in the country in question.The choice and use of professional assistance will always be your own responsibility and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs/the Danish Embassies and Honorary Consulates cannot be held responsible for the quality and extent of the chosen professional assistance.

If a Dane domiciled abroad wishes to draw up a will and cannot do so in Denmark, the person concerned must (as would have been the case if it had taken place in Denmark) contact a local notary in the country in question. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not provide notarial services. The Ministry cannot undertake to keep or submit wills. It is recommended that wills are registered at the relevant authority in the country where the estate will be administered.

Please be aware that the so-called “lovcertifikater” i.e. official statements/certifications regarding the content of Danish law are issued, on application, by the Danish Ministry of Justice (e-mail can be forwarded to the Insolvency Law Division of the Ministry of Justice: jm@jm.dk ; att. Insolvensretskontoret). The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not authorised to issue “lovcertifikater”.

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Rules of succession in EU Member States

More information about the rules of succession in various EU Member States (as well as Croatia) is available on the website “Succession Law in Europe”.

Further information

Information and guidance on the most common problems in connection with inheritance and administration of estates, including matters connected with foreign countries, may be obtained from the following Danish authorities:

The Danish Ministry of Justice
The Danish Court Administration
The Register of Marriage Contracts, Chattel Mortgages and Declarations of Legal Incapacity (i.a. The Central Register of Wills) (in Danish)
The Danish Bar and Law Society

The most important Danish legislation governing the area is the Danish Administration of the Estates of Deceased Persons Act, the Administration of Justice Act and the Danish Inheritance Act. The current legislation (in Danish) is available in Retsinformation (the official legal information system of the Danish state).

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