Cross border succession

DG Justice Leaflet

The Regulation (EU) 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decision and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matter of succession aims at simplifying the settlement of crossborder successions and will ease the legal burden when a family member with property in another EU country passes away. The Regulation ensures that a cross-border succession is treated coherently, under a single law and by one single authority. Under the Regulation, there will be a single criterion for determining both the jurisdiction and the law applicable to a cross-border succession: the deceased’s habitual place of residence. People living abroad will, however, be able to opt for the law of their country of nationality to apply to the entirety of their succession. It also ensures that decisions given in a Member State are recognised throughout the Union without the need for any special procedure.

Succession matters are commonly handled by notaries and lawyers in front of court in contentious procedures, triggering a loss of resources and time, especially in cross-border disputes, which could be avoided by agreements settled with the aid of high qualified mediators. Regulation (EU) 650/12 simplifies rules, procedures and documents related to international succession matters adopting the European Certification of Succession(ECS) .

It is a document adopted by the authority responsible for the inheritance proceeding, for the use on the part of heirs, legatees, executors of the will and administer of probate, in order to prove their status and to exercise their rights and powers provided by the law in other Member States. The good faith in the content of the Certificate is protected. Only for the registration in the national land register (or for other registered assets), the national rules on registration or land law may still require additional documents (or contracts) besides the European Certificate of Succession. Once issued the ECS shall be recognized in all Member States. The European Certificate of Succession does not abolish national certificates; they may still be used alternatively.

Who can request a European Certificate of Succession and how?

The European Certificate of Succession can be requested by the following persons:

  1. a beneficiary,
  2. a legatee entitled directly to the estate,
  3. executor and/or
  4. administrator of the estate.

The court or applicable authority which has the competence to deal with matters of succession after the national law, will issue the Certificate of Succession (Article 64 Succession Regulation).

FOMENTO seeks to further enhance the availability of instruments to tackle intricacy and complexities associated to cross-border succession procedures by promoting Mediation tools also in these circumstances.


Useful links:

General Information on Cross border Succession e-Justice Portal

Page on the Justice Portal on Succession and Will

DG Justice Leaflet on cross border succession

A citizen’s guide : how EU rules simplify international inheritances

European certificate of succession.