The European Commission Proposes Simplifications of Cross-Border Inheritance Aspects, Documents and Procedures

10 November 2009

It is an attempt to eliminate tiresome bureaucracy so that the citizens of the European Union who inherit property in a member state other than their own neither tire nor desist from the process.

The problems arise from the fact that each member state has its own law of succession, procedures and inheritance documents, which in practice leads to complications, expenses and excessive delays. The Commission has finally proposed a bill which would allow non-citizen residents to prepare wills in accordance with the legislation of the member state where they reside.

Furthermore, the legislation of the member state of residence of the testator- the deceased- will apply to all of their properties, in whichever member state they are located.

Another aim is to bring an end to contradictory rulings issued from various member states- especially those which refer to the same property. A sole authority of a single member state will take charge of the entire inheritance.

There is also a call for an EU-wide standard succession certificate in order to facilitate the situations for heirs, testamentary executors, or administrators of estates in any member state.

The aspects regarding to the distribution of the inheritance, as well as the fiscal aspects will continue to be governed by the laws of each member state. That is, this bill is of a public law or administrative nature, rather than fiscal.

In any event, and although it is only a Commission bill, it is a first step towards streamlining cross-border inheritances in the European Union.

For further information please contact Alex Ensesa: