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Wills and succession If you live in Denmark and have Danish employment, if you purchase real estate in Denmark or if you settle down in Denmark on a permanent basis, your estate may be governed by the Danish rules on inheritance. If this is the case and the Danish provisions on inheritance apply, your estate will be distributed according to Danish law.

If you reside in Denmark, the basic legal position is that the Danish provisions on inheritance will apply to your estate. If you do not reside in Denmark, the provisions on inheritance of the nation state with which you have the greatest ties, will apply.

If you are an EU national, your next of kin may decide whether your estate should be processed according to the legislation of your country of origin or pursuant to that of the country of residence at the time of your demise. You may also set out instructions in a will.

These are some of the key Danish provisions on inheritance

If you wish for your estate to be handled according to Danish law, your spouse will inherit one half of your estate while your children (called your ”surviving issue”) will inherit the other half in equal shares.

If you are co-habiting without being married, your surviving issue will inherit your entire estate in equal shares.

If you and your spouse have joint surviving issue, your spouse has the option of retaining undivided possession of the share of your estate, which would otherwise have been distributed to your joint surviving issue, until your surviving spouse dies, remarries, or decides to calculate and distribute your estate. Your surviving issue of another marriage, however, are entitled to inherit immediately on the administration of your estate.

Should you have neither a spouse nor any surviving issue, your parents will inherit your estate; and if your parents are dead, your siblings will inherit your estate.

Bequeathing your estate through a will

If that you wish to distribute your estate in different shares to that set out above and as provided for by Danish law, you must draw up a will in Denmark.

If you are neither married nor have any surviving issue, you are free to decide to whom you wish to bequeath (or give a share of) your estate.

However, if you are married or have surviving issue, you may distribute three-quarters of your estate as you wish. The remainder one-quarter is the portion of your estate, which must devolve compulsorily upon your spouse and your surviving issue.

A will should always be notarised and the Notary Public will record a copy of the will. The offices of the Notary Public are located at the local District Court. The Notary Public does not draft your will but confirms your identity on the execution of the will and also certifies that you have legal capacity.

Many non-lawyers find the rules and legal terms complicated. We recommend that you contact one of our lawyers who may advice you and who assist you in drawing up a will in Denmark should you choose to set up a will.

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Lars Stuckert
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