Succession

The 17th August may not have been a very important day for many people and lawyers in Romania, but it will have had an impact on them.

For Romanian family lawyers and those involved with tax planning, succession with cross border aspects have often given rise to complex structures. The law of succession varies from country to country across Europe and has produced confusing and sometimes contradictory interpretation and advice. To try and bring some rationality into the picture the European Union in 2012 passed EU Regulation No 650/2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession. They also created the Europeans Certificate of Succession (see post). The provisions of this Regulation came into force on the 17th August 2015 thus the importance of this date.

Twenty five European states signed up to the Regulation only the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark opting out of its provisions.

The Regulation was passed to ensure that:

  • A given succession is treated coherently by one court applying one legal system.
  • A citizen can choose whether the law applicable to his succession should be that of their last habitual residence or that of their nationality.
  • The provisions of the regulations will prevent parallel proceedings, and conflicting judicial decisions will therefore be avoided.
  • Decisions given in one EU country regarding succession will be recognised and enforced in another EU country.

Some matters still are resolved and governed by national rules and Romanian rules on succession will still apply to;

  • Who is to inherit and what share of an estate goes to children and spouses.
  • Property law and family law.
  • Tax issues relating to the succession assets.

As previously mentioned the Regulation also created a process of a European Certificate of Succession which will enable heirs, legatees, executors of will and administrators of estates to prove their status and to exercise their rights or powers in other EU countries. The European Certificate of Succession once issued will be recognised in all EU Countries who have accepted the regulation without any special procedures being required. The Commission has passed all necessary enabling legislation including the forms to be used.

It is hoped that this Regulation will make life simpler and cheaper. It does mean however, that anyone who has made a will in Romania or a will in another EU jurisdiction which affects Romanian property should have it reviewed to ensure that it still reflects their wishes and is compliant with the new Regulations.

Stamps

One of the joys of working in Romania has been the requirements for stamps, not postage stamps but the stamping type of stamps. Nearly every document from a simple taxi receipt to a receipt for the purchase of an airliner required the document to bear a stamp. Many documents were deemed invalid or unenforceable unless the document was stamped.

The Romanian Government has decided with effect from the 20th July stamps are no longer needed by Companies, NGO’s, commercial enterprises or individuals in Romania. So the days of always carrying your stamp are now past. It is interesting to note how many people still use the stamp (20th August) and when questioned do not realise that since 20th July it is no longer a mandatory requirement.

Last Week’s Post

Last week’s post stimulated much discussion and I am grateful for all the comments and helpful suggestions that were made. I will be amending the post to clarify some of the points raised.