European Treaty Series - No. 77
Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills
The member States of the Council of Europe, signatory hereto,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members;
Wishing to provide for a registration scheme enabling a testator to register his will in order to reduce the risk of the will remaining unknown or being found belatedly, and to facilitate the discovery of the existence of this will after the death of the testator;
Convinced that such a system would facilitate in particular the finding of wills made abroad,
Have agreed as follows:
The Contracting States undertake to establish, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, a scheme of registration of wills, with a view to facilitating, after the death of the testator, the discovery of the existence of the will.
In order to implement the provisions of this Convention, each Contracting State shall establish or appoint one or more bodies responsible for the registration provided for by the Convention and for answering requests for information made in accordance with Article 8, paragraph 2.
1With a view to facilitating international co-operation, each Contracting State shall appoint a national body which shall, without any intermediary:
aarrange for registration in other Contracting States as provided for in Article 6;
breceive requests for information arriving from the national bodies of other Contracting States, and answer them under the conditions set out in Article 8.
2Each Contracting State shall communicate to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe the name and address of the national body appointed in accordance with the preceding paragraph.
1The following shall be registered in a Contracting State:
aFormal wills declared to a notary, a public authority or any person authorised by the law of that State to record them, as well as other wills deposited with an authority or a person authorised by law to accept such deposit, with a formal act of deposit having been established;
bHolographic wills which have been deposited with a notary, a public authority or any person authorised by the law of that State to accept them, without a formal act of deposit having been established, subject to that law permitting such deposit. The testator may oppose registration if the said law does not prohibit such opposition.
2Withdrawals, revocations and other modifications of the wills registered according to this article shall also be registered if they are established in a form which would make registration compulsory according to the preceding paragraph.
3Any Contracting State may exclude from the application of the present article wills deposited with authorities of the armed forces.
1Registration shall be made at the request of the notary, the public authority or the person referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1.
2Any Contracting State may, however, in special cases determined and under the conditions specified by its national law, provide for the request for registration to be made by the testator.
1Registration shall not be subject to conditions of nationality or residence of the testator.
2At the request of the testator, the notary, public authority or person referred to in Article 4, may request registration not only in the State where the will is made or deposited, but also, through the intermediary of the national bodies, in other Contracting States.
1The request for registration shall contain the following information at least:
aFamily name and first name(s) of testator or author of deed (and maiden name, where applicable);
bDate and place (or, if this is not known, country) of birth;
cAddress or domicile, as declared;
dNature and date of deed of which registration is requested;
eName and address of the notary, public authority or person who received the deed or with whom it is deposited.
2This information must be contained in the register, in the form stipulated by each Contracting State
3The duration of registration may be determined by each Contracting State.
1Registration shall be secret during the lifetime of the testator.
2On the death of the testator any person may obtain the information mentioned in Article 7 on presentation of an extract of the death certificate or of any other satisfactory proof of death.
3If the will has been made jointly by two or more persons, the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article shall apply, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1, on the death of any of the testators.
Services between Contracting States pursuant to this Convention shall be rendered free of charge.
This Convention shall not affect provisions which, in each Contracting State, relate to the validity of wills and other deeds referred to in this Convention.
Each Contracting State shall have the option to extend, under the conditions to be established by that State, the registration system provided for by this Convention to any other will not referred to in Article 4 or any other deed affecting the devolution of an estate. In this case, in particular the provisions of Article 6, paragraph 2, shall apply.
1This Convention shall be open to signature by the member States of the Council of Europe. It shall be subject to ratification or acceptance. Instruments of ratification or acceptance shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
2This Convention shall enter into force three months after the date of deposit of the third instrument of ratification or acceptance.
3In respect of a signatory State ratifying or accepting subsequently, the Convention shall come into force three months after the date of the deposit of its instrument of ratification or acceptance.
1After the entry into force of this Convention, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe may invite any non-member State to accede thereto.
2Such accession shall be effected by depositing with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe an instrument of accession which shall take effect three months after the date of its deposit.
1Any Contracting State may, at the time of signature or when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance or accession, specify the territory or territories to which this Convention shall apply.
2Any Contracting State may, when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance or accession or at any later date, by declaration addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, extend this Convention to any other territory or territories specified in the declaration and for whose international relations it is responsible or on whose behalf it is authorised to give undertakings.
3Any declaration made in pursuance of the preceding paragraph may, in respect of any territory mentioned in such declaration, be withdrawn according to the procedure laid down in Article 16 of this Convention.
No reservations shall be made to the provisions of this Convention.
1This Convention shall remain in force indefinitely.
2Any Contracting State may, in so far as it is concerned, denounce this Convention by means of a notification addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
3Such denunciation shall take effect six months after the date of receipt by the Secretary General of such notification.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify the member States of the Council and any State which has acceded to this Convention of:
bany deposit of an instrument of ratification, acceptance or accession;
cany date of entry into force of this Convention in accordance with Article 12 thereof;
dany communication received in pursuance of the provisions of paragraph 2 of Article 3 and of paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 14;
eany notification received in pursuance of the provisions of Article 16 and the date on which denunciation takes effect.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto, have signed this Convention.
Done at Basle, this 16th day of May 1972, in English and French, both texts being equally authoritative, in a single copy which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall transmit certified copies to each of the signatory and acceding States.