There are 450,000 cross-border successions every year. In this context, it is not always easy for citizens to know whether a will exists in another EU country. Since its creation in 2005, the European Network of Registers of Wills Association (ENRWA) has been working to enable citizens to receive information more quickly about the existence of a will relating to their relatives and recorded in a foreign register.
The fruit of initial cooperation between the Belgian, French and Slovenian notariats, the ENRWA now has 17 member notariats and two partners (Estonia and Lithuania). Ten members benefit from total and automatic interconnection (see map): Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland and Romania, in addition to the register of St Petersburg that allows access to information on the Russian register.
1277 queries were made in one year (June 2012 – May 2013), which is an average of 106 per month. Over this period, the percentage of positive responses (wills found in one of the countries) was 9.5%.
Encouraging results, made possible thanks to support form the European institutions, to which a funding application was made for a first project in 2010. This project, IRTE (‘Interconnecter les registres testamentaires européens’, or Interconnecting the European Registers of Wills), was completed in October 2012. It made it possible to extend the European Network of Registers of Wills (ENRW) to more countries thanks to technical and financial support.
The next stage for the ENRWA is ‘CroBoWills’. Less technical than the IRTE project, it has also received European funding. Its purpose is to assess the situation regarding conditions for communicating the content of a will within each EU Member State. Begun at the end of 2012, it will be completed in November 2013. It will bring practical solutions to the difficulties that can arise when a will is found in a Member State other than that in which the succession is settled.
The project consists of four stages:
• Identification and summary of national practices for opening a will.
• Discussion of the harmonisation of conditions for distributing the content of wills involving a cross-border element.
• Creation of practical factsheets for professionals involved in settling successions.
• Dissemination of the project results, in particular on the ENRWA website and in a closing conference.
A first workshop-debate will take place in Lisbon on 6 December 2013. Other meetings will follow in Paris, Vienna and Riga.
Another subject of interest for the ENRWA: the recent adoption of the European Regulation on international successions, due to enter into force in August 2015. As part of their proactive approach, the ENRWA and the CNUE have decided to take up the topic and to consider the role the European notariat should play in matters relating to European Certificates of Succession.
More information on the ENRWA website: www.arert.eu