Death of a spouse: the next steps
Losing a loved one is always a shock, particularly when it involves someone you shared your life with. But despite this painful experience, a multitude of administrative formalities have to be dealt with in a short space of time. myLIFE can help you at this difficult time by guiding you through the main steps to be taken.
Manon recently lost her husband Thierry. Although administrative matters are of course not her primary concern, they still need to be addressed. Some of them have to be dealt with as quickly as possible for legal reasons. The main steps are provided below in chronological order.
Within 24 hours of a death
Get a medical certificate. The first step is to obtain a medical certificate as soon as possible. If Thierry died in the family home or on private premises, Manon or a relative has to notify his GP who will issue the certificate. If he died in a specialist environment (hospital, care home, etc.), they will give this to you.
Register the death. Manon, a relative or any other person such as the undertaker must register the death at the civil registry office in the district (commune) where Thierry died, or at the place of burial if it is different. This step is mandatory. The death certificate cannot be obtained without completing it and it is essential in order to proceed. We strongly advise you to ask the registrar for several copies so that you can send them to the various organisations that may request them.
In Luxembourg, once the death has been recorded, the spouse or partner of the deceased person is entitled to compassionate leave of three days.
The first few days
In Luxembourg, once the death has been recorded, the spouse or partner* of the deceased person is entitled to compassionate leave of three days. This leave is essential in order for the spouse or partner to be able to focus on the situation and to arrange and administer the necessary steps to be taken.
Arrange the funeral. Manon can arrange the funeral though a funeral director. If there is no pre-arranged funeral plan, the family will be responsible for arranging it. In Luxembourg, burial or cremation usually takes place within 24 to 72 hours of death, according to the deceased’s last wishes. Manon can then, if she wishes, publish a death announcement in the newspapers.
Notify the person’s payment organisations: employer, CNAP (National pension Insurance Fund) and ADEM (Luxembourg’s Employment Development Agency). If Thierry was an employee, his employer must be notified as soon as possible so that they can settle everything and pay the last benefits due (salary, holiday pay, bonuses, etc.). It is also useful to check with the company whether there are any special provisions within the collective agreement, if applicable, and if the employee was a member of a company pension scheme. If Manon’s husband was receiving a pension or was seeking employment, Manon must contact the Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Pension (CNAP) or the Agence pour le Développement de l’Emploi (ADEM) to stop payments.
⇒ Survivor’s pension and 3-month supplement: if the deceased spouse was an employee or pensioner, the surviving spouse (or partner*) may be eligible for the survivor’s pension and should apply to the National Pension Insurance Fund (CNAP). This pension entitles you, under certain conditions, to benefit from the supplement which is equivalent to three months’ salary (if the deceased was an employee) or three months’ pension (if the deceased was in receipt of a pension).
Notify the bank. Manon needs to notify her and Thierry’s bank as soon as possible. She is obliged to freeze all of Thierry’s accounts and assets, including access to the safe, until such time as the estate is settled. Powers of attorney will also cease to be valid, except for so-called “post-mortem” powers of attorney (provided that the beneficiaries have been informed that they exist). Nevertheless, the bank may, under some conditions, pay certain specific expenses, such as funeral or medical expenses, upon request, provided that the deceased’s assets are sufficient. Manon can contact her bank directly as to what to do going forward and how to manage outstanding loans, investments, joint accounts, life insurance and/or mortgage protection insurance policies.
The CNS offers a funeral allowance service in the event of the death of one of its members or a family member. This allowance is paid to the person or institution that prepaid the funeral expenses.
In the month following the death
Notify the CNS of the death. Manon must contact the Caisse Nationale de Santé (CNS) to change her policy if she had joint insurance and if Thierry was the principal insured. She can also get in touch with them to enquire about funeral allowance eligibility.
⇒ Funeral allowance: the CNS offers a funeral allowance in the event of the death of one of its members or a (dependent) family member. This allowance, up to a maximum of EUR 1,085.19 on 1 January 2020, is granted to the person or institution that prepaid the funeral expenses. Remember to keep any relevant invoices.
Notify insurance companies and health insurance schemes. Insurance companies (home, car, civil liability) must be notified in the weeks following the death in order to cancel the policies or, if applicable, to transfer them to the spouse’s name. In addition, Manon must check whether Thierry paid into a death fund, an additional mutual insurance company (e.g. the Caisse Médico-Complémentaire Mutualiste) or any other specific insurance to protect his immediate family. She must contact these organisations directly to receive any financial entitlement.
⇒ Compensation for moral damage. If death is caused by an accident at work, a work-related travel accident or an occupation-related illness, the surviving spouse or partner* is entitled to make a lump sum moral damage compensation claim. In addition, if the death occurred before the age of 65, the surviving spouse may qualify for the survivor’s pension to compensate for the financial loss caused by the death. The Accident Insurance Association (AAA) must be contacted within three years of the death.
Although children and the spouse are priorities for inheritance purposes, the status of the couple and the family structure have a direct influence on the distribution of assets.
Organise the estate. Usually, a notary is in charge of the estate. They will determine whether a will was made, make an inventory and valuation of assets, identify beneficiaries, ensure that inheritance instructions are respected, and draw up the declaration of inheritance, etc. Although children and the spouse are priorities for inheritance purposes, the status of the couple and the family structure have a direct influence on the distribution of assets. Manon’s rights vary depending on her marital status and whether there are children or not. Please note that in the case of partnerships, the surviving partner does not automatically have rights to the deceased’s estate. He or she must be named as the beneficiary in the will.
Matters relating to property(ies) and vehicles. If the couple owned property, the real estate property(ies) form(s) part of the estate. If Thierry and Manon were tenants, she must inform the landlord of the change in circumstances. In principle, the tenancy agreement continues in the spouse’s favour. However, Manon may also terminate this by giving notice. She must also notify the water, gas, electricity, telephone and internet providers in connection with the accommodation, in order to either transfer the contracts to her name or terminate them. If she decides to move house, Manon will need to contact the post office to have Thierry’s mail redirected. Finally, if Thierry owned one or more vehicles, the beneficiaries must obtain a new registration certificate from the Société Nationale de Circulation Automobile (SNCA).
Six months and beyond
File the declaration of inheritance. The declaration of inheritance is compulsory and must be filed, by Manon or her notary, with the Registration Duties, Estates and VAT Authority (AED) within six months. It serves as a basis for determining inheritance tax and, where applicable, any transfer duties on death payable. The amount of these duties vary according to the degree of kinship and the size of the estate. As a spouse, Manon is exempt from inheritance and property transfer tax.
If the couple was in the second tax bracket, the surviving spouse may, under certain conditions, keep the same bracket for a transitional period of three years following the death.
Inform the tax authorities. The tax authorities (Administration des Contributions Directes) must be notified of the new situation. If both spouses were taxed jointly, Manon must file a tax return in both names in the year of death (joint return) together with the couple’s total income. In subsequent years, she will file a separate return with her own income. If the couple was in the second tax bracket, the surviving spouse may, under certain conditions, keep the same bracket (without joint taxation) for a transitional period of three years following the death.
Manon now has a fairly detailed guide as to what she needs to do and what assistance she is entitled to following the death of her spouse. At such a difficult time, it is important for Manon to rely on her trusted banking adviser to help her manage her affairs and make the best decisions. We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
* Partnership declared and recognised in Luxembourg.