Friday, 23 March 2007
To be able to collect tax on estates of deceased people, the family of the deceased was required to file a death duties file within 6 months of the death. These death duties files can be very interesting sources to get an overview of the property of our ancestors.
The death duties files were introduced in 1818. All inheritances, whether there was property or not, had to be reported. A collector estimated the value of the estate and compiled an overview.
Before 1878, no tax had to be paid if the heirs were a direct descendant of the deceased. In this case, only the real estate was listed. After 1878, direct heirs had to pay tax as well. This means the death duties files after 1878 can be much more elaborate.
A typical death duties file contains the following information:
- Name of the deceased
- Place of death
- Date of death
- Overview of real estate
- Overview of other property
- The names of the heirs, including their place of residence
- Sometimes: information about a will
Example of a death duties file
Where to find
The death duties files can be found in the provincial archives. Some archives have made an index to the death duties files available online at Genlias. This often only lists the name and death date of the death duties file, but a photocopy of the original file can be ordered for a fee.