Definition and impacts of the European Certificate of Succession

The European Certificate of Succession is a document, which follows an official model, where the essential information of a succession is gathered. Its purpose is to circulate successfully between member states. It is issued by the competent authority in each member state. It constitutes a legal instrument for European citizens and accredits a successional action according to the state’s law of the deceased in a third state where the succession may have effects.

What does the European Certificate of Succession prove?

  • Who the heir or legatee is
  • To who a specific asset has been attributed
  • The powers of the executor of the will or of the administrator of the estate

Since it is voluntary to use the European Certificate of Succession, its existence does not stop anyone from using other documents according to a country’s legislation instead. Once the European Certificate of Succession has been issued it has effects just as well in the issuing state as in other states subject to the Regulation.

Legal effects of the European Certificate of Succession

The efficiency of the European Certificate of Succession has three aspects:

Offering a legal protection to the actors in a succession

The Regulation EU N. º 650/2012, 4th of July 2012 seeks to offer legal protection to those who intends to perform legal actions regarding the estate of a succession. The Regulation protects every person’s acquisition of estate as a consequence of a succession, as long as the person has been given these from the authorized person. In the same way, every entity that performs payments our deliver estate to an authorized person, according to the certificate, shall be free from responsibility regarding these actions.

As a form of proof of the succession

The European Certificate of Succession also proves the included circumstances since they have already been accredited by the national competent authority according to the succession law applicable to the succession. There is a presumption that the ones who appear in the Certificate has the status as heirs and legatees and that their right to the estate shall be accordingly to what the Certificate says.

In both cases, in order for the Regulation’s protection to have efficiency, it’s necessary that one that delivers or acquires estate knows that the Certificate’s content corresponds to reality. If the content doesn’t, then one must not be lacking this knowledge due to gross negligence.

It is a registrable title in the official records

Lastly, the Certificate works as a legal instrument that is registrable, regarding the estate, in the public records in whichever member state where it should be registered. It corresponds to the national law of each state to decide the rights and procedure of the registration.

Salma Sehk Zinth & Alejandro Espada Gerlach

This post does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact us.

Espada Gerlach Abogados Abogados

Espada Gerlach Abogados Abogados


Espada Gerlach Abogados is a multidisciplinary spanish law firm with offices in Barcelona and Girona, Spain.

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