A last will is a declaration of intent, whereby a person disposes of his/her left possessions in whole or in part. Two or more persons may also draw up mutual wills appointing each other and any children as heirs.

The rules of inheritance are complicated, and you are advised against trying to draft a will by yourself. A will must always be based on your specific situation and requests, and it must be drafted so that there is no doubt whatsoever on the day when the inheritance is to be distributed. You may also read about the rules applying to non-marital or married couples and single people with or without separate children and/or children of the marriage. There are many options and even more rules.


Who needs a will?

  • Unmarried cohabitants (cohabitation wills);
  • Married couples without children;
  • Married couples with children of different marriages;
  • Married couples wishing to limit their children’s inheritance for the benefit of the surviving spouse;
  • Married couples wishing their children’s inheritance to be separate property for settlement until they reach a certain age;
  • Persons without children wishing to consider selected relatives/friends/associations or the like, thus preventing the inheritance from reverting to the State;
  • Persons wishing to reserve their inheritance for charitable purposes.


Unmarried cohabitants (cohabitation wills)

The level of security for unmarried cohabitants is unfortunately the subject of many misunderstandings. If you are living together as unmarried cohabitants, you are not each other’s heirs; even if you might have lived together at the same officially registered address for more than two years and perhaps have children together. If you wish your cohabitant to inherit from you, you need to draw up a cohabitation will.


If you have children, a will is particularly relevant, if you have real property or other substantial assets. The fact is that the children (of the marriage) inherit the deceased’s part of the real property/asset, whereas the cohabitant does not inherit anything. If there are any separate children in the family, you should note that children only inherit from their biological parents – not from the cohabitant. This situation may, however, be remedied by drawing up a will describing how to distribute the inheritance among the children after the surviving spouse’s death.


By drawing up an extended cohabitation will, cohabitants may be situated in terms of inheritance, as if they were spouses with fully separate property, thus improving the financial situation of the survivor and ensuring that any children receive the inheritance intended for them.


We are married – do we still need a will?

If you are married, it may still definitely be a good idea to draw up a will. If e.g. you wish your children to inherit a real property or a business in favour of the spouse, who does not wish to continue any such activity, it will be necessary to draw up a will to ensure the requested distribution in case of death. It is also possible to decide that the children’s inheritance must be separate property for the purpose of preventing it from being shared with the children’s spouses in case of separation or divorce.


When you are married, it is possible for the surviving spouse to retain undivided possession of the estate, but if there are one or several separate children, this option does not exist, unless the deceased’s separate children have given their explicit consent.


Single – who will inherit?

If you do not have any children or spouse, you will be absolute free to act and decide who is to inherit from you. If there is no will, the inheritance will descend to the deceased’s parents, and subsequently to the deceased’s brothers and sisters or their children. If you wish to influence your own situation of inheritance, you should draw up a will describing your wishes, as neither your parents, nor your brothers and sisters, and nor their children are forced heirs.


In HjulmandKaptain, we see an increasing number of people deciding to favour a charitable institution, who may receive inheritance without being subject to inheritance tax.


To single persons with children, it is not immediately necessary to draw up a will, if you wish your children to inherit from you. If you do not wish the inheritance to be shared with any children-in-law in case of separation or divorce, it will make sense if you draw up a will for the purpose of ensuring that the inheritance is treated as separate property for your children.


Maintaining the will

A simple life is constantly facing minor or major changes, which may also have legal consequences that you ought to know and consider. The rules of the Danish Inheritance Act were changed a few years ago. If you do already have a will, it may therefore still be a good idea for you to present it to a lawyer for review at e.g. five years’ intervals.


How can we help you?

HjulmandKaptain has a team of competent lawyers having specialised thoroughly in family law and the law of succession, and who are exclusively occupied with matters pertaining to family law and the law of wills and succession. Our family law attorneys have wide experience, making us both efficient and careful at the same time, which we hope we may show you.


If you entrust us with the drafting of your will, this will include an evaluation of your financial position and your position in terms of inheritance as well as a discussion of whether the heirs’ inheritance should be separate property. Our fees for drawing up a will cost from DKK 3,500, exclusive of VAT.


Further, we offer a Family check, free of charge. This may be a good place to start. Please feel free to call us on tel. +4570151000 to book an appointment.