Death often occurs suddenly and requires a great many matters to be dealt with in quite a short period. So we thought it might be useful to outline the steps that need to be taken if someone close to you dies.
The main task of the funeral director is to organise the burial. These companies do more than that, however, and offer a complete service. You can consult them regarding contacts with the borough, organising the religious ceremony, requesting a burial plot, transporting the body, announcing the death, a newspaper obituary, the reception etc.
For more information, visit www.funebra.be.
The death must be declared to the registrar of the borough where the person died, not of the borough where he or she lived.
The declaration can be made by the relations or by the funeral director.
When declaring the death, the following documents must be presented:
the death certificate issued by a doctor;
the identity card of the deceased;
the deceased's driving licence;
the “family record book” or a similar document, if the deceased was married).
The registry office official issues the “borough death certificate” ). You should immediately request several copies of this document, as you will need it for notifying the bank, the employer, the health insurance fund, the pension service etc.
For more information contact your borough's registry service.
The notary helps those close to the deceased in a professional way and guides them through the maze of legal, administrative and tax requirements.
He or she can take care of issuing the “attested affidavit” or thecertificate of heredity), the search for heirs, the will research, the declaration of estate, payment of bills and settlement of the inheritance.
For more information, see www.notaire.be or www.notaris.be.
Financial institutions and insurance firms
Those close to the deceased should contact the financial institutions where he or she had accounts or assets as soon as possible after the death.
The bank will freeze the accounts and safe-deposit facilities in the name of the deceased and his or her spouse as soon as it receives official notification of the customer's death.
This freeze is necessary so the bank can fulfil its legal and tax obligations.
Upon settlement of the customer's estate, it is important that the bank pays the assets to the legal heirs. Thus the bank must be made aware of the succession details, in order to be able to identify the heirs.
In fulfilment of the Belgian Inheritance Tax Code, upon the death of a customer resident in Belgium, financial institutions and insurance firms must prepare a list of all assets registered in the name of the deceased and his or her spouse.
Since 31 August 2009, it has been possible to grant an advance to the surviving spouse or legal cohabitant under certain conditions.
Health insurance fund
Upon the death of your spouse, your status with the health insurance fund changes. You must provide them with a copy of the death certificate issued by the borough () and your SIS (social security) card. They will check whether you are entitled to a health insurance benefit. Once your SIS card has been modified, you will receive new labels (for claims and other documents) from the health insurance fund.
Ask them whether they contribute to the funeral costs.
Contact your branch for more information.
If the deceased was retired at the time of death, you do not need to contact the pension service yourself. Once the death is registered, the registry office service will advise the pension service.
The surviving spouse should request a survivor's pension. This survivor's pension can be combined with work generating income up to a certain limit; any such income must be disclosed to the pension service.
For employees and the self-employed, this request must be made to the health department of the borough, whose officials will contact the employer's personnel department.
For more information:
The employer should sort out all the necessary paperwork with the social secretariat upon being advised of the death of an employee.
For this purpose, the employer needs a copy of the death certificate issued by the borough; the registry of the borough where the person died can supply multiple copies.
Enquire about any remuneration, including the "13th month" holiday pay and so on still due.
Some companies also pay other benefits to those close to a deceased staff member, such as a contribution to the funeral costs, supplementary survivor's pension and capital from group insurance..
Family allowance fund
Upon the death of a relation, those children entitled to family allowances can receive orphan's allowances You can request these from the family allowance fund using a copy of the death certificate issued by the borough.
For more information contact the local benefits office ("Caisse d'Allocations Familiales")
Fund for occupational diseases and fund for accidents at work
If death occurs as a result of an occupational accident or disease, the heirs may claim certain allowances from a special fund, for example:
a burial allowance;
compensation for the costs of transporting the deceased;
a life annuity of 30% of the basic wage for the spouse of the deceased; and
a temporary annuity of 15% for the children if they are entitled to family allowances.
The self-employed are not insured against occupational accidents but can apply to their own sickness and insurance policy.
For more information:
Belgian law (Civil Code) states that a rental agreement cannot be terminated upon the death of the tenant or owner. The rights and responsibilities of the tenant/owner fall to the heirs.
For more information, see http://www.notaris.be
Inform the utility companies – water, electricity, gas, telephone and television – of the death so the accounts can be closed or transferred.
If the deceased owned a car, those close to him or her can either discontinue or take over the number plate.
To discontinue the plate, send it to the Belgian vehicle registration department ("Direction pour l'Immatriculation des Véhicules", or "DIV") or send it to your insurance company. The registration certificate refers to the car, not the owner.
If you would like to keep the car, you can keep the plate under certain conditions. On the form you obtain from your insurer or your garage, you state that you wish to transfer the plate upon the death of the holder. Include with the form a copy of the death certificate issued by the borough ) and the original registration certificate.
You send all of this to the DIV or your insurer.
The vehicle insurance can also be taken over if you provide proof that you are a direct descendant (i.e. a birth certificate).
If the deceased had a handicapped parking card, you send this to the borough authorities or the social security federal public service.