Submit your request for advice here

Inheritance from abroad

An inheritance from abroad can raise various questions: for example, which law applies to the inheritance (who gets what?), how and according to which law the settlement takes place, how do heirs acquire a foreign-located component of the estate. and which documents must be submitted?

Receive advice tailored to your needs.
Get confirmation on the correct application of the law.
Save time

A legacy from abroad within the EU

If it concerns an inheritance from abroad within the EU, it is quite possible that the European inheritance law regulation is applicable. This regulation applies in all EU countries, except Denmark and Ireland. Questions of the internationally competent court, the applicable law and the recognition and enforcement are then governed by this Regulation. The European Inheritance Regulation introduces the European Certificate of Inheritance; a document that aims to promote a ‘quick, smooth and efficient handling’ of an inheritance from abroad in the EU. Read more about this on the page about the European Declaration of Inheritance.

If it concerns an inheritance from abroad to which the European inheritance law regulation does not apply, the private international law of that other country will be leading. For example, if it concerns an estate that has been opened in South Africa, the law applicable there will determine which documents are required to be able to receive the inheritance there.

Would you like to receive a non-binding cost estimate?

Inheritance from abroad within the EU and the European Inheritance Regulation

A comprehensive regulation has been established at EU level with the European Inheritance Regulation. This regulation concerns questions concerning international jurisdiction, applicable law (succession and liquidation and division), the recognition and enforcement of court decisions as well as the acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments (substantive and formal validity of wills) and court settlements. Furthermore, with a view to realizing a quick and efficient treatment of an inheritance with cross-border aspects, the regulation for the European Certificate of Succession has been drawn up.

As far as international jurisdiction is concerned, according to Article 4 of the European Regulation on Succession, the main rule is that jurisdiction is the court of the Member State where the testator has his habitual residence at the time of his death. The general rule of applicable law is that, where the testator has not made a valid choice of law, the law of his habitual residence at the time of his death applies. This means that the competent court can (usually) apply its own inheritance law. This may be different if the testator has made a choice of law in his will. Under the ordinance, the law of the state of the testator’s nationality can be chosen, either at the time of making the choice of law or at the time of his death.

Inheritance from abroad within the EU and the formal validity of a will

When it comes to the formal validity of a will made in an EU member state that is bound by the European Inheritance Regulation, it is assessed on the basis of the Hague Wills Convention 1961. This also applies to a will originating from a country where the Inheritance Regulation does not apply.

 

Inheritance from abroad within the EU and the settlement of the inheritance

For the settlement of the inheritance from abroad, the question of acceptance or rejection of the inheritance may be discussed. The applicable inheritance law determines which declarations of inheritance are possible. According to Article 13 of the European Succession Regulation, an heir can make a declaration accepting or rejecting the inheritance in the Member State of his habitual residence, even if the inheritance is settled in another Member State where the regulation applies. In accordance with Article 2 of the European Succession Regulation Implementation Act, the statement is made at the registry of the court in the place of residence of the person making the statement.

Personal contact

The IJI has a small-scale character. That is also our strength. You always have personal contact with a permanent employee and the lines are short.

Global network

We have a worldwide network of legal experts from science and practice. We can immediately use this network if your business so requests.

Up-to-date expertise

We have strong links with legal experts from the field (judiciary and advocacy) and academia and actively participate in the scientific debate. As a result, we are well aware of the latest developments in our area of law.

Independent advice

Our reports can therefore be used to substantiate a judicial decision, the basis for a notarial deed or the substantiation of a procedural document.

Inheritance from abroad within the EU and the formal validity of a will

When it comes to the formal validity of a will made in an EU member state that is bound by the European Inheritance Regulation, it is assessed on the basis of the Hague Wills Convention 1961. This also applies to a will originating from a country where the Inheritance Regulation does not apply.

What our Clients Say About Us

Lawyer Tim de Greve, partner at Stibbe.

I regularly engage the IJI in cases where PIL aspects play a role. The institute has existed for over 100 years and can therefore boast a long history and experience. There are prominent people associated with it. Not least Mr Strikwerda. They support you from the outset, immediately understand the question you are faced with and suggest possible solutions. They have the right connections at home and abroad to answer questions within a reasonable timeframe. Apart from that, it is very pleasant to work with the people of the IJI.

Lawyer Channa Samkalden, Prakken d'Oliveira

We have received advice from the IJI on several cases. One example is a case brought by a number of Nigerian farmers against Shell concerning oil pollution in Nigeria. That case is about the application of Nigerian law by the Dutch court. The IJI looked into the framework of tort law in Nigeria for us. We used that advice in the proceedings and also submitted it to the court and it showed, for instance, that our plaintiffs were also entitled to claim against Shell under Nigerian law. The IJI is extremely useful in all such cases because you receive very sound advice on the basis of which you know whether you should have a number of things investigated further. It’s very useful advice at an early stage of your procedure.

Attorney Ria van Seventer, Meesters aan de Maas Advocaten

Our law firm is based in Rotterdam, a city of more than 170 nationalities, so we regularly have to ask the IJI for advice. For example, I had to deal with the recognition of a child by an Italian man, to which Italian law had to be applied. I don’t speak Italian so I could not do that myself. Nor did I have access to the sources which the IJI has.

Would you like to receive a non-binding cost estimate?