EU succession law

The new EU Succession Regulation facilitates the cross border handling of successions and wills. These new rules apply to successions after 17 August 2015. Up to then it remains by the old rules.

So far many European countries apply succession rules according to the testators nationality. Was the testator of German, Portuguese or Spanish nationality, his estate is ruled by German, Portuguese or Spanish succession law, even if his last residence was abroad. Other European countries apply the succession law of the testators last habitual residence. Therefore it can be very difficult to find the applying succession law and sometimes those laws even are in conflict to each other.

In order to avoid these conflicts the EU Succession Regulation was adopted and now is mandatory law for all European citizens. In general, the last habitual residence of the testator determines the applicable law to succession and the competent court.

The Portuguese living in Germany is now subject to Portuguese succession law and from 17 August 2015 on subject to German inheritance law.

However, EU citizens can also choose that the law applicable to their succession should be that of their nationality. This avoids parallel proceedings and conflicting judicial decisions and the mutual recognition of decisions relating to succession in the EU is ensured.

Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom do not accept the Regulation. Therefore succession procedures pending in these countries will continue to be dealt with by the old, in those countries applicable rules only.

Matters of inheritance tax law are not subject to the scope of the Regulation.