EC: New rules on cross-border succession

Today, the Commission's proposal to simplify the settlement of international successions received the final backing of the Council of Justice Ministers of the EU. The European Commission proposals will ease the legal burden when a family member with property in another EU country passes away. Once published in the EU's Official Journal – which is expected to take place within weeks – Member States will have 3 years to align their national laws so that the new EU rules on succession become effective.

(...) Today's decision will lead to a substantial simplification of the settlement of international successions by providing a single criterion for determining both the jurisdiction and the law applicable to a cross-border succession: the deceased's habitual place of residence. It will also permit citizens to plan their succession in advance in full legal certainty. The approval also paves the way for the introduction of the European Certificate of Succession, which will allow people to prove that they are heirs or administrators of a succession without further formalities throughout the EU. This will represent a considerable improvement from the current situation in which people sometimes have great difficulty exercising their rights. The result will be faster and cheaper procedures.

Source: European Commission - Press release



1) Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom do not participate in the regulation. Malta voted against the adoption, expressing concerns on the uncertainty that the new rules will create in the legal regime of international successions, vis-à-vis current Maltese law.

2) The national probate law of the member states will not be affected.

3) The new law will enter into force probably in 2015.

4) The testator may chose in a will the law of the country he is a citizen of.

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