Death duties files

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

Handwritten document

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 WieWasWie. 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.

Dutch Genealogy source score

3 out of 5 stars Amount of information about births, marriages, deaths
4 out of 5 stars Amount of background information about your ancestors
2 out of 5 stars Online availability of scans
1 out of 5 stars Online availability of indexes or transcriptions
1 out of 5 stars Easy to understand if you don’t know Dutch

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Irma Lommen - Salden says

    Maybe handy; the Dutch name is Memorie van Successie …… if someone wants to search the Dutch archives for these files!

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