The European Network of Registers of Wills Association (ENRWA) and the Notaries of Europe held a closing conference on Thursday 20 November for the Cross-border Wills project (CroBoWills). This project has been implemented with the European Commission’s support in the context of the Civil Justice 2007-2013 programme. Its aim is to study national procedures for opening and communicating wills in order to improve understanding and facilitate the exchange of information when a will is found in a State other than that in which the succession is being settled. The state of play in each country and practical factsheets will be available on the www.enrwa.eu website.
This project comes in line with the ENRWA’s objectives, which are to achieve interconnection of the registers of wills in Europe. To date, thirteen European registers of wills are interconnected (those of Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania). The Austrian and Hungarian registers are also part of the network but only in order to be able to search the other registers of wills. Finally, an interconnection with the St. Petersburg register and, with this, the wills in Russia has also been set up.
Since January 2014, there have been 1548 queries of the ENRWA platform between European registers of wills. A will is found In 12% of cases on average, which is approximately 10 to 15 wills per month. Thus, legal professionals responsible for settling the succession have the assurance that they can liquidate the succession, taking into account the last wishes of the deceased. For the remaining 88% of cases, the heirs have a guarantee that no will is registered abroad.
Mr Jean Tarrade, Vice-President of the Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE/Notaries of Europe) stated: “The ENRWA provides European citizens and practitioners with a network that is flexible to use and which guarantees the highest standards of security. In order to do so, the ENRWA has managed to (….) overcome many legal, technological and linguistic challenges. The Notaries of Europe are proud of these developments (…) which will enable European citizens to find the last wishes of those close to them more easily, no matter where in Europe they have been filed.”
The interconnection of registers of wills will be a major priority for the coming years. In their 2020 Plan, which was unveiled at the beginning of October, the Notaries of Europe reaffirm their wish to achieve the interconnection of registers of wills in Europe in the medium term. In this respect, the President of the ENRWA, Mr Karel Tobback is pleased that “the Member States, the Council and the Commission share this wish”. Proving this is “the creation of an informal group in the Council, chaired by Estonia, and whose first meeting took place on Tuesday 18 November. As part of this work, the CNUE and the ENRWA have already expressed their availability to work with the various stakeholders and promote the ENRWA as an example of best practice”.