N E W S R E P O R T V A P L A W A U G U S T 2 0 1 5
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New European Succession (Inheritance) Law – New Law, New Facts
Since August 17, 2015 the new European Regulation for Succession law applies, which changes some main provisions of the Succession Law∗.
As regards cross-border successions the law of the EU country applies, where the deceased and succeeded party had his usual place of residence, and not, as applicable before, the nationality law.
The simple rule, according to which each Greek citizen is succeeded in accordance with the Greek Law and each German citizen according to the German Law, is abolished.
In addition, the European Certificate of Succession is introduced as a new institution, which will facilitate by far all procedures for the settlement of cross-border successions.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE
• Since August 17, 2015 the new European Succession Law applies to cross-border successions.
• Main provisions of the Succession Law are amended.
• A determinative factor for the applicable law: The last place of residence and not the nationality.
• The new European Succession Law may annul the existing will.
• Whoever lives in another European country and wishes to be succeeded in accordance with the Greek Law, must probably revise his will.
• The new European Regulation for Succession Law does not apply in Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland or to the citizens of these countries. Nevertheless, it applies in Switzerland and to Swiss citizens living in a country of the European Union.
To whom does the new European Succession Law apply?
Any person residing abroad who wishes to dispose his property in accordance with the Greek Law, must now check his will. The new European Succession Law may annul his existing will. In addition, whoever has not drafted a will, lives abroad and wishes the issues of his succession be governed by the Greek Law, must provide for it in his will. In any different case, the law of the last permanent residence thereof will apply (e.g. the German) and not his nationality law.
∗ Regulation (EU) no 650/2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession.
The constantly increasing number of successions with an international dimension, which is the result of the shift of human personnel within the European Union, shows the necessity of a unified European provision. Foreign law may differ a lot from the Greek Succession Law.
In order to avoid any surprises, it is important that you are timely informed.
A German Manager of a large German constructions material company, moves with his family for 5 years to Athens, in order to establish and manage a branch of the said company.
A couple of German pensioners buy a house in Peloponnese near the sea, in order to reside there.
A Greek doctor is fired due to the recession in Greece, however he finds another job post, due to his high skills in a hospital in Dresden and signs a three-years employment contract. Once a year, he visits his family in Thessaloniki. He seriously considers living in Dresden until the day he retires.
Teachers are requested for job posts in Austria. A Greek teacher with long experience who is fluent in Germany tries her luck there and finds a job.
Which is the applicable law in each of the above cases?
Either we are dealing with specialized personnel, pensioners who live abroad or employees who move due to their place of work – whoever lives in a foreign country and wishes to be succeeded in accordance with his nationality law, must take into account that the new European Regulation for Succession Law had introduced major changes.
Specifically, for the above examples, this means:
As regards the German Manager with permanent residence in Athens or the couple of German pensioners who live in Peloponnese, if they wish that the Greek Law not to be the applicable one for their heirs, they must expressly state the selection of the German Law.
Similarly, the Greek doctor who permanently lives in Dresden or the Greek kindergarten teacher who lives in Austria, whose relatives live in Greece, must, if they wish the Greek Law to apply, expressly make the relevant provision in their will.
Higher safety of law and facilitation in international successions
The new Regulation introduces for the first time at a European level, unified provisions, according to which, the law that will apply to international succession will be provided and how will the heirs prove their rights.
Until today, discrepancies were expressed in many cross-border success-
ions, as regards the applicable national law.
Most important provisions of the New European Regulation
Scope of Application: The scope of Application covers all issues of civil law that relate to succession of a deceased person, i.e. all cases were ownership, assets, rights and obligations are transferred, either through a voluntary deed of transfer, or by virtue of the last will provision (e.g. will), or via transfer with ab indiviso succession.
However: The Regulation does not apply to tax issues or administrative cases governed by public law
In any case, as in the past, the Treaty for the Avoidance of Double Taxation applies.
Selection of applicable law: The person succeeded is entitled to select as the law that will govern all aspects of his succession, the law of the country of which he is a national, at the time the selection is made. If the person succeeded wishes his nationality law to apply and not the one of his residence, he must expressly state it with a declaration that will have the form of the last will.
Which court is competent?
The courts of the member-state in which the person succeeded usually, have international jurisdiction in order to hear the succession case in its whole.
Agreement for the selection of court: In case the law which the person succeeded selected to be the one that will govern his succession is the law of a member-state, the interested parties (e.g. the heirs thereof) may agree that a court or the courts of the said member-state have exclusive international jurisdiction to hear any issue that relates to the succession.
Advantage: Effectiveness of Justice. The competent Court and the applicable law may thus coincide. In the past, the settlement of international successions usually led to long-time procedures, due to the fact that the court should apply a foreign law with which it was not familiar. This meant that the necessary legal opinions should be obtained, which necessitated time and money.
Enforceability: The decisions issued in a member-state which are enforceable only to the said member-state, are rendered enforceable in all members-states.
Simplification of the procedures via the establishment of a new European Certificate of Succession:
The new Regulation introduces a European Certificate of Succession (ECS). This is a document issued by the authority dealing with the succession for use by heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate to prove their status and exercise their rights or powers in other Member States.
Advantage: Through the use of this standard form, succession cases will be easily, quickly and effectively settled. The heir who was obligated to travel to various countries saves money, time and effort in this manner.
Note: It is pointed out that the above outline of provisions is suggestive and summarizing and aims at providing a quick update in relation to the legal framework. Any subjection of your company to the above provisions and the conditions of this subjection constitute the object of a more complete analysis for which the provision of specialized legal advice is required.
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