Succession law

Succession law varies considerably from one EU country to another. However, in cross-border cases, EU rules provide certainty concerning which authority is to decide on a succession, which law is to be applied and how the ultimate decision is to be recognised and enforced. More information on cross-border successions and national legislation is available on the e-Justice portal.

EU rules on international succession

A major step to facilitate cross-border successions are new EU ruleswhich make it easier for people to handle the legal side of an international succession. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom do not participate in the regulation.

With the EU rules on succession

  • a succession is treated coherently, by one single court applying one single law
  • people can choose whether the law applicable to their succession should be that of the country they have last lived in or that of their nationality
  • court decisions on successions in one EU country are recognised and enforced in other EU countries

Some aspects of successions continue to fall under national rules, including

  • who inherits and what share of the estate goes to children and spouse
  • property law and family law in an EU country
  • tax on succession assets

European certificate of succession

The regulation also creates a European certificate of succession. This certificate enables heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate to prove their status and exercise their rights in other EU countries. A European succession certificate is automatically recognised in all EU countries.