Today the new EU succession regulation comes into force in all EU member states (save for the UK, Ireland and Denmark).

This regulation changes significantly the former process of indication of the applicable law in the matter of succession, harmonizes its rules but also presents novelties.

As from now the applicable law is indicated by the habitual residence of the deceased at the moment of death unless the one chooses the applicable law. The applicable law determined by the last habitual residence is applied, regardless of whether the deceased had any real estate in other jurisdictions.

It is highly recommended for the EU citizens living in other EU member states where the new EU succession regulation will be in force to carefully consider what is more favourable – to let the estate to be ruled by the law of the country of the habitual residence or maybe to choose the applicable law. It all depends on the specific situation.

When the deceased decides to choose the applicable law, it must remembered that it should be done expressly in the Will or in the declaration in the form of the disposition of property upon death. The Will does not have to be made accordingly to the law of the last habitual place of residence of the deceased. For example, a Polish national can choose the applicable law in his Will made under Polish law and before a Polish notary, although she or he normally resides in Germany.

The new principles in the matter of applicable law are not the only novelties.

To unify the procedure and diminish the range of problems and difficulties in proving one’s rights to the estate in different EU member states, the new EU succession regulation envisages the European Certificate of Succession.

This certificate can be used in all EU member state to effectively prove one’s rights to the estate as an heir without the need to involve courts and offices from each EU member state and obtain multiple certificates.

We suggest for Polish nationals living outside of Poland to draw up Wills which include the choice of the applicable law to avoid any lengthy and complicated proceedings before foreign courts.

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