Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 was adopted on the 4th July 2012 with the aim of simplifying cross-border successions and in the light of today’s globalised European environment. These rules pertain to the succession of persons who die on or after 17 August 2015. This Regulation may be deemed to be the perfect opportunity for individuals to re-examine their estate planning.
The Regulation aims to:
- Ensure that a succession is dealt with consistently by one Member State and consequently by the law of the chosen State, which is duly chosen by the individual in accordance to his last habitual residence or their nationality;
- Avoid parallel proceedings and conflicting judicial decisions; and
- Ensure that the resulting decisions are recognised and enforced in all EU member States.
Nonetheless, national governments will continue to regulate issues specifically relating to property law, family law, inheritance, and taxation of assets. Furthermore, The Regulation also caters for the issuance of a European Certificate of Succession which would permit legatees, heirs, administrators and executors of wills to exercise their rights and operate in all EU Member States without the need to submit any further application forms.
It is important to note that although the majority of the Member States have welcomed the new Regulation, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland have all opted out and therefore cross-border succession remains to be regulated by their respective national laws.
Previously, the European Union did not offer a clear system for the regulation of issues relating to cross-border succession. Indeed, confusion with respect to the various legal implications across EU member states may crop up when an individual’s assets are not situated in just one member state. Consequently, the Regulation will now offer a clear framework in order to determine which country will have jurisdiction of the individual’s estate.