The new EU succession rules

The new EU Regulation No 650/2012 came into force in 2015 in order to simplify and harmonize the legislation related to succession and wills within the EU. The Regulation aims to address international succession issues. The Regulation applies to persons who die from 17 August 2015 onward.

The Regulation aims to avoid parallel succession-related court proceedings in more than one EU Member State. The major points of the new EU cross-border succession rules are as follows:

  • Individuals are allowed to choose the law applicable to their succession. Such law can be either the law of their nationality or the law of the last country of their residence.
  • In order to avoid judicial conflicts, the successions are dealt with consistently by one court. Therefore, the law of a single jurisdiction applies.
  • Succession-related decisions that were accepted in one of the EU countries can be freely enforced in other EU countries that have adopted the new succession rules.

The issues related to other aspects of succession, such as (1) identification of beneficiaries, (2) property and family law aspects, and (3) taxation of succession assets, remain under the national control of the EU Member States. The Regulation applies to all EU countries, except for Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, where the cross-border succession rules remain governed by the national legislation.


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