A major step to facilitate cross-border successions was the adoption, on 4 July 2012, of new Union rules designed to make it easier for citizens to handle the legal aspects of an international succession. The new rules of the European succession Regulation apply to the succession of those who die on or after 17 August 2015.
The Regulation ensures that a cross-border succession is treated coherently, under a single law and by one single authority. In principle, the courts of the Member State in which citizens had their last habitual residence will have jurisdiction to deal with the succession and the law of this Member State will apply. However, citizens can choose that the law that should apply to their succession should be the law of their country of nationality. The application of a single law by a single authority to a cross-border succession avoids parallel proceedings with possibly conflicting judicial decisions. It also ensures that decisions given in a Member State are recognised throughout the Union without the need for any special procedure.
The Regulation also introduces a European Certificate of Succession (ECS). This document issued by the authority dealing with the succession can be used by heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate to prove their status and exercise their rights or powers in other Member States. Once issued, the ECS will be recognised in all Member States without any special procedure being required.
All member-states of the European Union participate un the Regulation with the exception of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, these three countries do not participate in the Regulation. As a result, cross-border succession procedures handled by the authorities of these three Member States will continue to be governed by their national rules.
Matters of inheritance tax law are excluded from the scope of the Regulation. If you want to have more information about the application of the regulation in your case, please contact us!