EUROPEAN CERTIFICATE OF SUCCESSION
November 5, 2020
The European certificate of succession is a document that solves inheritance issues with an international element.
With the enlargement of the European Union and the opening of borders between countries, many people have settled (to live and work permanently) in countries other than their countries of citizenship. Many Bulgarians also live, study and work in Member-States of the European Union. The transfer of the center of their life interests to another country often leads to the purchase of real estate in those countries, opening of bank accounts in local banks or acquisition of other property in a manner governed by the local Laws.
When a Bulgarian citizen has resided in another Member State of the European Union and deceased there, an issue occurs as regards the receipt of their inheritance in such country by their heirs. The solution to this problem is addressed in Regulation (EU) No. 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. It governs succession in the European Union and applies to all Member States except for Denmark and Ireland. These countries only follow their domestic legislation in relation to inheritance.
In order for the heirs of a Bulgarian citizen who has died in an EU Member State to be able to receive his or her inheritance (whether funds in bank accounts, real estate or other property) found in that country, they must obtain a European certificate of succession. It is an official document specifying:
– The applicable inheritance law;
– The circle of persons having the status of heirs of the deceased, and
– Their respective share of the testator’s estate.
Its issuance will be necessary in order for the heirs of the deceased to be able to subsequently identify themselves in such capacity before the relevant foreign institutions. This will allow them to claim their respective share of the inheritance found there (property, cash in bank accounts or other property left by the testator in the country where he/she has deceased. It should be clarified here that the European Certificate of Succession may be used only for the part of the deceased’s inheritance located outside Bulgaria (i.e. in another European Union Member State). This certificate is not a substitute for the certificate of inheritance issued by the Bulgarian municipalities and used for distribution of an estate found in the Republic of Bulgaria.
Procedure for issuing a European Certificate of Succession
The legal rules for issuing a certificate of succession are outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure. Each heir of the deceased person is eligible to request the issuance of a European Certificate of Succession . The heir should submit an application to the court at the last permanent address of the deceased. In case that the person did not have a permanent address in the country (instead, he/she provided a permanent address abroad to the Civil Register Department), the application is to be submitted to the Sofia District Court.
The application for a European certificate of succession is issued by the court seised in the context of non-contentious proceedings. To that end, a standard form shall be completed, i.e. form IV of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1329/2014 of 9 December 2014 drawing up the forms referred to in Regulation (EU) No. 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on competence, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (OJ L 359/30 of 16 December 2014). When filling in the application, detailed information about the deceased, their heirs, the data of the deceased’s spouse, the data of the other persons concerned and other necessary information such as a marriage contract, etc. should be provided. In case that some of these documents are in a foreign language, then they should be duly translated into Bulgarian and legalized in the appropriate order.
If the application is accepted, the court issues a European Certificate of Succession using Form V of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1329/2014 of 9 December 2014 on the preparation of the forms referred to in Regulation (EU) № 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (OJ L 359/30, 16.12.2014). The European Certificate of Succession thus issued in the Republic of Bulgaria, is valid for a period of six months. It will be directly recognized in the other EU Member State without the need of initiating any other additional procedure under its local Laws.
Both the issued European Certificate of Succession and the refusal to issue itare subject to appeal before the respective district court within onemonth-. This period starts immediately after the receipt of the document. When the issued European Certificate of Inheritance is incorrect or the refusal to issue it is unreasonable, then the appellate court repeals the previously issued act in whole or in part and returns the case to the court of first instance with binding instructions.
Yosifova, Ivanov and Petrov Law Firm offers legal representation of heirs of a Bulgarian citizen deceased in an EU Member State, or a Bulgarian citizen who at the time of their death has owned real estate, bank accounts or other property in a European Union Member State, subject to distribution among their heirs. We provide legal representation before the competent Bulgarian court in the procedure for issuing a European Certificate of Succession. We also prepare all the necessary documents and applications. For more information, please contact us using the „Contacts” section.
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