As love knows no boundaries, the number of relationships involving people from different countries continues to rise. However, this can create confusion when it comes to property and succession as it is not always clear which country's legislation applies.
On Monday 12 March MEPs will discuss legislation that will make it easier to settle inheritances and avoid disputes by clarifying which court is competent and what law applies in these cases. They will vote on it the following day.
Cross-border inheritances make up 10% of all successions in the EU, which is almost 450,000 a year and worth some €123 billion. As every member state has different succession laws, it can be difficult to know what law should apply or which court is responsible when the deceased has lived in more than one country.
The European Commission has produced legislation to make things easier. Under the proposal where people live would determine what jurisdiction and law applies to a cross-border succession. However, people would also have the option of choosing the laws of their home country instead. It will also establish a European Certificate of Succession to enable people to prove without formalities their capacity as heir or their powers as administrator or executor of a succession.
Recommendation to Parliament
The EP's legal affairs committee, which is responsible for producing a recommendation to MEPs, said in its report that it endorses the proposal, but that some corrections and amendments are needed. German Christian-Democrat Kurt Lechner, author of the report, wrote: "The proposal creates legal certainty, is comparatively clear and straightforward, and, with regard to the key issues it addresses, can also be understood by the man and woman in the street. Fragmentation of successions is avoided." He also added: "Handling cross-border successions would be made considerably easier."
How it will affect citizens
Nothing will change for people who live in their home country. People who live in another part of the EU will be able to choose which country's laws should apply to their succession. However, this new regulation will not affect the UK and Ireland as they opted out.