European regulation, global consequences?

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In Paris on Saturday 22 October 2016, an autumn day much like any other, the European regulation on international successions became rather exotic . It was discussed by speakers from throughout the world in the context of the international congress of notaries that brought together well over a thousand notaries.

The European regulation has global consequences since it concerns everyone, regardless of nationality, who lives in the 25 States that are party to the regulation and also all the citizens of these States who live abroad.

This European regulation is a global revolution in the treatment of international successions. One law for the whole succession. Many notaries from Asia, Africa and the Americas therefore attended the presentations made by their colleagues from the four corners of the world. Very specific case studies all with a Europe-third State situation were presented and the notaries explained how they would resolve them in their country.

Whether the speakers were from Cameroon or China, from Mauritius or Canada, from Switzerland or Argentina, it was made clear that an international succession now needs more advance planning. Citizens who go and live abroad have to take into account that their habitual residence changes with expatriation. They all recommend making a will and, where possible, making a choice of law.

The question of the applicable law was debated in a first panel, followed by the subject of European public policy and, finally, the issue of inheritance tax was covered. Like the notaries of Europe, notaries in the rest of the work are keen to have simpler rules and solutions to limit double or even triple taxation.

The forum participants expressed three wishes:

1) The creation of a World Certificate of Succession (WCS) to enable the notary dealing with a succession opened with the application of a non-EU law to be in possession of a document proving the capacity of the heirs and their respective roles, to guarantee legal certainty when settling the succession.

2) Considering that freedom of choice is a way of organising an international succession in advance, the participants propose to encourage the States that do not have this principle to recognise it or at least to respect the effects attached to the freedom of choice in the interests of finding harmonious solutions.

3) Regarding double taxation problems: the forum participants propose to encourage States to conclude international tax agreements on succession and gifting that clearly state the definitions to bear in mind and the way of taxing property, and above all to implement an adequate system to avoid double taxation.