Jurisdiction and applicable law in succession matters and European Certificate of Succession
Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 on matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession
It provides legal certainty to beneficiaries of international successions, avoids conflicting decisions and simplifies proceedings. It thus makes it easier for beneficiaries in another EU country to enjoy the rights which have been granted or transferred to them by succession.
It establishes EU-wide rules on jurisdiction and on the applicable law governing succession matters in the EU, as well as rules on recognition and enforcement of decisions given in an EU country and the acceptance and the enforcement of formal legal documents issued in an EU country.
It also introduces a European Certificate of Succession to be used by heirs, legatees, executors of wills or administrators of the estate to demonstrate their status and/or exercise their rights or powers in another EU country.
It applies to all EU countries, except the UK (1), Ireland and Denmark which will continue to apply their national law to international successions. The other EU countries will apply their national rules on recognition and enforcement to decisions given in these 3 countries.
It applies to deaths on or after 17 August 2015.It entered into force on 5 July 2012.
The regulation applies to all civil aspects of the succession to the estates of deceased people.
It does not apply to:
revenue (for example, tax matters);
or administrative matters.
Areas of civil law other than succession, such as matrimonial property regimes, gifts and pension plans are not covered by the regulation.
Jurisdiction and applicable law
The courts of the EU country in which the deceased was usually living at the time of death will have jurisdiction to rule on the succession as a whole.
As a rule, the law applicable to the succession is the law of the country in which the deceased was usually living at their time of death. It can be the law of either an EU or non-EU country.
However, before their death, a person can instead choose that the applicable law should be the law of their country of nationality. If this person is a national of an EU country, the parties concerned by the succession may agree that the courts of that EU country should deal with the succession rather than the one in which the deceased was usually living.
The same law applies to the whole succession, irrespective of either the type of assets (moveable or immoveable) concerned or the country of their location.
The applicable law will govern, for example:
the determination of the beneficiaries and their respective shares;
the capacity to inherit;
the powers of the heirs, the executors of the wills and the administrators of the estate;
the liability for the debts under the succession;
the sharing-out of the estate.
Recognition and enforcement
The application of a single law by a single authority to an international succession avoids parallel proceedings, with possibly conflicting judicial decisions. It also ensures that decisions given in an EU country are recognised throughout the EU without need for any special procedure. Decisions enforceable in the EU country where they have been given are enforceable in another EU country when, on the application of an interested party, they have been declared enforceable there by the local court.
European Certificate of Succession
The European Certificate of Succession (ECS) is an optional document issued by the authority dealing with the succession.
It is for use by heirs, legatees, executors of wills or administrators of the estate who, in another EU country, need to demonstrate their status and/or exercise their rights as heirs or legatees or their powers as executors of wills or administrators of the estate.
Once issued, the ECS will be recognised in all EU countries without any special procedure being required.
In contrast with national certificates of succession, which have different effects depending on the EU country of issue, the ECS will have the same effects, set out in the regulation, in all EU countries.
Regulation (EU) No 1329/2014 sets out the forms to be used to accompany this Regulation, in particular the ECS.
Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (OJ L 201, 27.7.2012, pp. 107-134)
Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1329/2014 of 9 December 2014 establishing the Forms referred to in Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (OJ L 359, 16.12.2014, pp. 30-84). See consolidated version.