EU Succession Regulation

EU Succession Regulation now in force – how will it affect you?

The aim of the EU Succession Regulation (EU 650/2012) known as Brussels IV, is to unify succession laws across EU member states.

It was implemented on 17 August 2015, binding in all EU member states except for the UK, Ireland and Denmark, who chose to opt out.

In countries where the Regulation applies, when an individual dies, the succession of their estate will be with the law of the country they were living in, upon their death. The location of the estate in question and whether or not it is movable does not have an effect. The intention is that only one succession law will apply.

This default position can be overridden, if the individual expresses in their will, they wish their nationality to apply instead.

How is the UK affected?

In England and Wales, individuals can normally leave their estates to whoever they chose, although some exceptions do apply. In other EU countries forced Heirship rules apply and if the individual has estates in more than one country, it can cause a complex conflict of laws.

Even though the UK has not opted into the EU Succession Regulation, it will still affect UK nationals who own property in countries in the EU who have opted into the Regulation.

There is also some confusion on how effective the manner the UK has opted out of the Regulation is and until this is resolved there will be uncertainty in estate planning for individuals with UK and EU connections.

An example:

An individual, who is a UK national and lives in England, but also owns a holiday home in France, can chose for English law to apply to their estate. This means, France should apply the Regulation rules and English law should apply to the individual’s French holiday home.

What to do next?

If you think the Regulation could affect any existing wills you have, they may need amending – and remember, advice you have received in the past might now not be correct, in light of with the new Regulation. If you’d like more advice on the EU Succession Regulation and to understand your options, please contact our solicitors on 01283 526200.

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