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I'm looking for a will

If you are looking for a will, you can search the Nationaal Archief's Central Register of Wills (CTR). This register contains all wills that were drawn up between 1890 and 1973. The CTR can be used to find out whether or not a will was drawn up and if so when this took place and before which notary.
You can use the information that you find in the CTR to find the will itself at the offices of the named notary or his successor. It is also possible that the will has been transferred to a notarial repository in the relevant district through the district court. Wills from before 1916 may also have been transferred to a public repository.
Bear in mind that wills that have not yet been transferred to a public repository are only available for inspection.
If you are looking for a will from a different period, click here for information on finding wills drawn up before 1890 or after 1873.

How do I proceed?

The CTR has two card systems:

  • Registration of wills drawn up between 1890 and 1973, arranged in order of the date of birth of the person making the will, and in order of family name within that year.
  • Registration of wills drawn up between 1890 and 1918, arranged in order of family name.

Each registration card contains the name, birthplace, date of birth, profession, place of residence and marital status of the person making the will. The address, date of death and name of spouse are also sometimes mentioned. You will also find the notary's name and practice location, the date of the deed and the deed number.
The CTR cards are available on microfilm and can be viewed in the microfilm repository in the reading room of the Nationaal Archief. You can find the cassettes in stacks D13 and D14. If you are looking for a will of someone born before 1900, it is advisable to look through both series. For wills of people born after 1900 the series ordered according to year of birth is sufficient.
Once you have found an entry for the will you are looking for, you should note down the notary's name and practice location, the date of the deed and the deed number.
If the notary named is still in practice, you can request the will from this notary using the deed number and date of the deed.
If the notary is no longer in practice, there are various ways in which you can find out who his successor is.

  1. The quickest way is using the website of the Royal Dutch Notarial Society (Koninklijke Notariële Beroepsorganisatie or KNB): www.notaris.nl. Here you can do a search by name and practice location in the 'succesors' archive' (opvolgersarchief). You can also get in touch with this organisation: Royal Dutch Notarial Society (KNB), Spui 184, PO Box 16020, 2500 BA The Hague, +31 (0)70 3307111, communicatie@knb.nl.
  2. In the part of the Nationaal Archief where wills are found, in the following records:

South Holland

  • Notarial Archives

    • Period prior to 1830: catalogue reference 3.04.01.

    • 1843-1895: catalogue reference 3.04.02.

    • 1896-1905: catalogue reference 3.04.08.

    • 1906-1915: catalogue reference 3.04.09

    • 1916-1926: The notarial archives of South Holland from this period are partly held by the Nationaal Archief, but they do not contain wills. This is due to the fact that the wills in these archives have a 100-year term of restricted public access, rather than the 75 years for other notarial archives.

  • Judicial archives prior to 1811: 3.03.08
  • Orphan Chamber archives prior to 1811: 3.04.06

For both these archives many records have been handed over to the South Holland municipal and regional archives. This is certainly the case for the larger cities.

Other provinces

For other provinces you can get in touch with the provincial records office.

Former colonies

  • Notarial archives of Suriname, catalogue reference 1.05.11.14
  • Notarial archives of Suriname, catalogue reference 1.05.11.15
  • Archives of the Dutch colonies on the Coast of Guinea 1658-1872, catalogue reference 1.05.13 (inventory numbers 335-341, 981-991)
  • Archives of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba until 1928, catalogue reference 1.05.12.01, inventory number 794 onwards
  • Archives of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba 1929-1845, catalogue reference 1.05.12.02, inventory number 749 onwards
  • Archives of the Trading Post in Japan, catalogue reference 1.04.14
  • Archive of the Dutch East India Company, catalogue reference 1.04.02, inventory numbers 6847-6929. An index of names has been made for these wills. You can find this in catalogue reference 1.04.14.

Other sources

The reading room of the Nationaal Archief has the following reference works:

  • F.L. Hartlong. Register van Protocollen van notarissen in Nederland ±1550-1915 (Rotterdam, 1916). Call number S12 D26
  • J.E. Kasdorp. Register van Protocollen der notarissen die in de periode 1916-1993 in functie waren (4th edition, Amsterdam, 1993). Call number S12 D27

You can find more information (in Dutch) about the Central Register of Wills at www.centraaltestamentenregister.nl.

Wills from before 1890 and after 1973

Registration of wills prior to 1890

There was no central registration of wills in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Indexes of names were occasionally made for a town or at a notarial archive. These sometimes refer to wills. For the province of South Holland you can consult the overview of indexes in the microfilm repository in the reading room. You can also consult the archive inventories of the South Holland notarial archives.

South Holland, 1806-1927

For the province of South Holland in the period 1806-1927 you can use the Memories van Successie (Estate Inventories) records (3.06.05). These inventories were usually drawn up upon death in order to calculate how much inheritance tax the heirs had to pay. The estate inventory will state whether a will was drawn up, and if so, by which notary and when. Click here for the research guide I’m looking for an estate inventory (in Dutch). For the estate inventories from provinces other than South Holland, you can get in touch with the corresponding provincial records office.

Civil servants, 1814-1958

For civil servants employed from 1814 to 1958 you can also search the records of the Algemene Rekenkamer (Netherlands Court of Audit), Bureau Vaste Posten (office of fixed payments), Verklaringen van Erfrecht (inheritance certificates) (2.02.09.04, inventory numbers 349-688). These certificates identified heirs in cases where the estate of someone to whom the state still had financial obligations was dissolved. If a will was present, the certificate will mention the name and practice location of the notary and the date of the deed. This series of certificates only concerns public servants, such as servicemen and civil servants. This does not necessarily mean that there is an inheritance certificate present for every public servant. The certificate was only drawn up if the quarterly or monthly salary or pension had not yet been paid.

Registration of wills from 1974 onwards

All wills from 1974 onwards are registered at the Royal Dutch Notarial Society (Koninklijke Notariële Beroepsorganisatie or KNB). Information can be requested from:
Central Register of Wills
PO Box 119398
2500 CJ The Hague

www.centraaltestamentenregister.nl

You will only receive information if you send them a copy of the death certificate of the person whose will you are interested in. The information provided will include the name and practice location of the current notary, the deed number and the date of the deed.

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