Two days ago, on the 13th of March 2012, the European Parliament adopted the proposed Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (PE 441.200v03-00). The text of this Regulation still needs to be adopted by the Council before it comes into force (EU-wide rules in matters of succession - Background).
The new regulation will directily apply in all Member States, except Denmark, United Kingdom and Ireland. These new rules would simplify succession in cross-border situations, when laws of more than one Member State may be applicable, making inheritance within Europe easier, cheaper and faster. The regulation intends to treat succesion to the estate of a deceased person as a whole irrespective of the nature or the location of the assets. It will give authority to decide over succession to one body and only one law would be applicable. In general, the law applicable to the succession will be the law of the State of the deceased's habitual residence at the time of his death. However, he will have a possibility to choose the law of a State of which he is a national, as well. This is believed, to enable anyone living abroad within the EU to retain a close link with his home country. Succession decision issued by any court within the EU, as well as notary issued documents, will be recognised and enforceable throughout the EU. The creation of a European Certificate of Succession will enable the person who draws up the will to safeguard the rights of his heirs, as well as of his creditors, and to make the legal position of successors clearer. (Making cross-border inheritances easier)