An overview of the Regulation on successions, showing its importance even though the UK has an opt out.

Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 on successions may not be applicable to the UK, but it can have an effect on British citizens, particularly those who own property in another European Member State.

In cross-border inheritance cases, the first issue to be addressed is deciding which law is applicable and which court has jurisdiction on the estate. This regulation provides rules to ensure that each succession is treated coherently, under a single legal framework and by a single authority. The main principle is that the law of the Member State where the deceased had their last habitual residence applies, and the courts of that state have jurisdiction. However, citizens can elect that the law that should be applied to their succession is that their country of nationality. The application of a single law by a single authority should avoid parallel proceedings and ensure that decisions taken in a Member State are recognised throughout the European Union without the need for special procedures.

To this effect, the Regulation introduces a European Certificate of Succession (ECS), a document issued by the authority dealing with the succession, for use by all citizens involved in the proceedings to prove their standing and exercise their rights in other Member States.

On 9 December the Commission adopted an Implementing Regulation* which established the forms to be used, including the European Certificate of Succession, which will be soon available to be filled in online through the e-justice portal.

Summaries of the national succession laws and procedures in each Member State of the European Union can be accessed here.