Tuesday, March 31, 2015


[SECTION 2-1010. INTERNATIONAL WILL INFORMATION REGISTRATION. The [Secretary of State] shall establish a registry system by which authorized persons may register in a central information center, information regarding the execution of international wills, keeping that information in strictest confidence until the death of the maker and then making it available to any person desiring information about any will who presents a death certificate or other satisfactory evidence of the testator’s death to the center. Information that may be received, preserved in confidence until death, and reported as indicated is limited to the name, social-security or any other individual-identifying number established by law, address, and date and place of birth of the testator, and the intended place of deposit or safekeeping of the instrument pending the death of the maker. The [Secretary of State], at the request of the authorized person, may cause the information it receives about execution of any international will to be transmitted to the registry system of another jurisdiction as identified by the testator, if that other system adheres to rules protecting the confidentiality of the information similar to those established in this state.]
The relevance of this optional, bracketed section to the other sections constituting the
uniform law concerning international wills is explained in the Prefatory Note. Also, Mr. Plantard’s observations regarding the Resolution attached to the 1973 Convention are pertinent. He writes:
“The Resolution adopted by the Washington Conference and annexed to its Final Act encourages States which adopt the Uniform Law to make additional provisions for the registering and safekeeping of the international will. The authors of the Uniform Law considered that it was not possible to lay down uniform rules on this subject on account of the differences in tradition and outlook, but several times, both during the preparatory work and during the final diplomatic phase, they underlined the importance of States making such provisions.
“The Resolution recommends organising a system enabling...’the safekeeping, search and discovery of an international will as well as the accompanying certificate’...
“Indeed lawyers know that many wills are never carried out because the very existence of the will itself remains unknown or because the will is never found or is never produced. It would be quite possible to organise a register or index which would enable one to know after the death of a person whether he had drawn up a will. Some countries have already done something in this field, for example, Quebec, Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, where this service is connected with the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Such a system could perfectly well be fashioned so as to ensure respect for the legitimate wish of testators to keep the very existence of their will secret.
“The Washington Conference also underlined that there is already an International Convention on this subject, namely the Council of Europe Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills, concluded at Basle on 16 May 1972, to which States which are not members of the Council of Europe may accede.
“In this Convention the Contracting States simply undertake to create an internal system for registering wills. The Convention stipulates the categories of will which should be registered, in terms which include the international will. Apart from national bodies in charge of registration, the Convention also provides for the designation by each Contracting State of a national body which must remain in contact with the national bodies of other States and communicate registrations and any information asked for. The Convention specifies that registration must remain secret during the life of the testator. This system, which will come into force between a number of European States in the near future, interested the authors of the Convention, even if they do not accede to it. The last paragraph of the Resolution follows the pattern of the Basle Convention by recommending, in the interests of facilitating an international exchange of information on this matter, the designation in each State of authorities or services to handle such exchanges.
“As for the organisation of the safekeeping of international wills, the resolution merely underlies the importance of this, without making any specific suggestions in this regard. This problem has already been discussed in connection with Article 8 of the Uniform Law.”

The Council of Europe Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills of May 16, 1972 and related documents were available to the reporter and provided the guidelines for Section 2-1010 of this part. 

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