Who looks after children if their parents die?

Parents can name one or two individuals in their will as guardian(s) in the event of their death. Since 2014 it has been possible for parents to designate a guardian even without using a will. You can do this free of charge by having the person’s name entered in the parental responsibility register (gezagsregister). That person will be given responsibility for the children if the parents die. Before they can become a guardian, a person must file a declaration of willingness (bereidverklaring) to accept guardianship with the registry of a district court.

No guardian named in will or parental responsibility register

If the parents have not recorded who is to raise their children after their death, the court will decide. Before doing so, the court consults the families and decides on the best solution with them. In most cases, guardianship is settled by agreement. But sometimes the court can’t find a solution quickly, for example if there are several suitable guardians. In this case, the court can seek advice from the Child Protection Board (Raad voor de Kinderbescherming).

Nobody able or willing to be guardian

If no relative or friend of the family is willing to accept guardianship of the children, responsibility is assigned to a certified agency such as a youth protection agency (stichting jeugdbescherming). The agency will try to find a suitable foster family or assist the child to live independently.