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Legal maze on EU cross-border wills to end
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Published on 27-07-12

New EU rules to ease the legal headaches families experience when a loved one dies leaving property in another EU country were published today in the Official Journal.  The result will be faster and cheaper procedures, saving people time and money in legal fees. EU member states have three years to bring their national laws into line, doing away with the legal uncertainty which currently exists.

    Legal maze on EU cross-border wills to end

    The law will make it considerably simpler to settle international successions by providing a single criterion for determining both the jurisdiction and the law applicable in cross-border cases ie the deceased's habitual place of residence or their nationality. It will also allow people to plan their succession in advance with full legal certainty.

    In addition, it provides for a 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 represents a considerable improvement from the current situation in which citizens have great difficulty exercising their rights. 

    An estimated 450,000 European families deal with international wills each year and with more than 12.3 million EU citizens resident in another EU country, the rules are likely to be of interest to many more.

    Note: Substantive national rules on successions remain under member states' responsibility, such as:-

    - who is to inherit or the share of assets going to children or spouses;

    - property law and family law in an EU country;

    - the tax arrangements for assets making up a succession.


    The new regulation on cross-border successions was proposed by the European Commission in October 2009 and formally adopted by EU Member States ministers in June 2012.

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    Last update: 27/07/2012  |Top