What are the national rules in case of intestate succession (no will has been set up)?

ln the absense of a will, the estate will pass to the spouse and the direct descendants of the deceased, according to chapters 1 and 2 of the Danish lnheritance Act.

ln the absence of descendants, the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate. lf the deceased leaves descendants, the surviving spouse inherits one half of the estate, and the other half is distributed evenly amongst the direct descendants, § 9 of the Danish lnheritance Act.

ln the absence of a surviving spouse, the estate will pass to the relatives of the deceased.

The relatives are divided into three classes of intestate heirs:

  • The firstclass consists of the direct descendants, i.e. children of the deceased. lf a child has died prior to the deceased, the children ofthat child will be descendants.
  • The second class consists of the parents of the deceased. lf the parents or one of the parents have died, the siblings of the deceased will take their place.
  • The third class consists of the grandparents of the deceased. lf the grandparent has passed away, the respective children of the grandparent will inherit.

Danish law recognises three basic principles regarding the division of the estate:

Firstly, no member of a subsequent class can assume position as an intestate heir, if one relative lives, who belongs to a preceding class.

Secondly, the estate is distributed evenly on each family line of the relatives. Each child and the descendants of the child form one family line. Furthermore, each parent and the descendants thereof form one family line, and the grandparents form their respective family line.

Thirdly, Danish law recognises the "representation principal". The descendants of a legal heir do not assume position of a legal heir prior to the death of that legal heir. lf the legal heir has not survived the deceased, the portion that the legal heir should have inherited, will be distributed evenly amongst his or her direct descendants.

What are the national forced heirship rules, if any existing?

Under Danish law, the spouse and the direct descendants are entitled to a reserved portion of one fourth of the estate. ln other words, the deceased is entitled to dispose of three quarters of his estate by will. The reserved portion of the spouse is 1/8 of the estate. The other 1/8 of the estate is distributed evenly amongst the direct descendants. lf the deceased does not leave any direct descandants, the surviving spouse must receive 1/4 of the estate. The reserved portion for the descendants is also limited to 1/8 of the estate, if the deceased has bequeathed a partner in life to that extent. Furthermore, the deceased has the right to Iimit the reserved portion of the descendants to the amount of DKK 1.1 00.000. This is not possible with respect to the reserved portion for the spouse.

What are the national formal requirements when setting up a will (holographic will, will confirmed by witnesses, will confirmed by a notary public)?

  • Will confirmed by a notary public. This will shall be set up in writing, signed by the bequeather, signed and confirmed by a notary public, § 63 of the Danish lnheritance Act. The notary public must state (1) the identity of the bequeather, (2) that the bequeather is capable to draw up his will, (3) who is present at the signing and (4) other circumstances relevant for the wi ll, for instance, if the notary suspects a case of compulsion.
  • Will confirmed by witnesses. A will confirmed by witnesses shall be signed or ackknowledged by the bequeather in the presence of two witnesses and the witnesses shall sign the will and state their name, § 64 of the Danish lnheritance Act. The witnesses may not have any own interest in the content of the will. Therefore legal heirs, or persons directly or indirectly bequeathed in the will cannot act as witnesses.
  • Holografie Will. Under Danish law a holografic will is only accepted in case of emergency. According to § 65 of the Danish lnheritance Act, any kind of will shall be accepted, if the bequeather is barred from setting up a will before a notary public or before witnesses. The will becomes invalid after three months, during which it would have been possible for the bequeather to set up a will confirmed by a notary public or witnesses.
  • lnventory Will. lf the will shall only govern house inventory and other personal belongings, the bequeather may set up a written declaration. The declaration shall be in writing and signed by the bequeather, § 66 of the Danish lnheritance Act. Hence, even notes placed on furniture will suffice, as Ieng as they are signed.

If inheritance tax and/or gift tax is in place please specify the percentages of tax respectively the calculation of tax!

The Danish tax liabilty and rate depends on who inherits, the value of the estate and the amount passed on. Three tax classes are in place:

Tax debtorsTax rate
Spouses and registered partnersNone
Closest family:
Children, grandchildren, great grand children, parents, divorced spouse orpartners in life, having lived together for at least 2 years
15 % of the value of the estate above DKK 264.100
All others15 % af the value of the estate above DKK


This information was compiled by LEAD advokatpartnerselskab.