European Certificate of Succession

Czech Republic: With some delay, a new institute of European inheritance law: the European Certificate of Succession, has been incorporated into Czech law.

The European Certificate of Succession (hereinafter „Certificate“) is a fairly novel legal institution which was established by Directive (EU) 650/2012 of the European Parliament and 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 (the „Regulation“).

In simple terms, the Certificate is a public deed („authentic instrument“, in the parlance of the law) that is recognized on the territory of all EU member states and that allows heirs, legatees, executors of the will or administrators of the estate to prove their legal standing in succession proceedings in order to exercise the rights and competencies vested in such position. Among other things, the Certificate should serve as legal title for the entry of assets into public registers in the various member states (such as company registers or real property records).

Even though the Regulation came into force in 2012 already, and even though its provisions have since then automatically applied to all succession proceedings concerning individuals who died on or after 17 August 2015 (given that the Regulation is directly applicable EU law), Czech law in no way addressed the new concept of the Certificate. This issue was only resolved when an amendment to the Act on Special Court Procedures was passed (in the form of Act No. 161/2016 Coll., which has come into force on 7 June 2016).

Pursuant to the amendment, the Certificate will be issued, upon request and provided that the conditions set out in the Regulation are satisfied), by the court with territorial jurisdiction over the succession proceedings; until these are completed, the Certificate will be issued on behalf of the court by a notary public acting as the ‚court commissioner‘. The Certificate is usually valid for six months, with the possibility of an extension.

In other words, entitled parties should no longer experience any obstacles in using the new institution. The Certificate ought to make it easier, especially for heirs, to dispose of parts of the estate which are located abroad, in another EU member state, or, as it were, to prove their right of disposition.

Source: Directive of the European Parliament and the Council (EU) 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 Act No. 161/2016 Coll.


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