The European Certificate of Succession, the solution to trans-border successions

In some cases a person may be a habitual resident in one EU member state to which he isn’t a citizen. Also, he might have property in various member states. When a person in this situation passes away, complications may arise when validating the will or the succession. These types of succession are known as trans-border successions and they plant various legal issues due to the concurrence between different national jurisdictions regarding the law of succession. Apart from the necessity to determine which law ought to regulate the succession itself, another issue arises regarding proving of a succession’s essential elements in other states than the one that´s competent to regulate it.

In order to simplify trans-border successions, the European Parliament and the European Union Counsel adopted the Regulation EU N. º 650/2012, 4 of July 2012. It’s applicable in all member states except in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. It entered into force on the 17th of August 2015 and is therefore only applicable for successions where the diseased passed away after this date. The quoted regulation has been developed by the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1329/2014 of 9th December 2014 establishing the Forms referred to in Regulation (EU) No 650/2012, and the law 29/2015, regarding the legal cooperation on civil matters which regulates the issuing of the certificate.

The case of UK, Denmark and Ireland

The authorities in these three member states do not apply the european regulation which is why they are not considered to be “member states” in the Regulation’s meaning.

Trans-border successions in Denmark are least complicated since they don’t take part in the European legal sphere at all. Consequently, neither of the European regulations are applicable in this country.

UK and Ireland opposed themselves from the very beginning of the legislative process to the development of this legal instrument for Succession Law. Both countries follow the “mortis causa” succession system in which the assets of the succession are located. The real property is considered to be located in the territory where they are actually located, and the personal property is normally considered to be located in the State’s territory where the deceased resided last.

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.

Leave a comment