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Own Property Abroad? The New EU Succession Rules May Affect You

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There is a new EU regulation in relation to succession known as Brussels IV.  This regulation will apply to the succession of assets of those who die on or after 17th August 2015.  The regulations govern which EU member states rules will apply to the distribution of the deceased’s property (both moveable and immoveable).  The regulations do not affect the tax rules.

The UK has not adopted the regulations yet, however the regulations will apply where someone has connections to both the UK and another member state. 

Let us take an example.

Mr and Mrs Smith live in Wales, and have a holiday home in France.  At present if Mr or Mrs Smith die, who inherits their assets in the UK will be governed by the Will they have made in this country. 

The rules relating to the French holiday home however will be governed by French laws.  French succession rules include forced heirship rules, which could mean that those who will inherit the house in France may be very different to who Mr and Mrs Smith would want.

As a result of this new regulation, if Mr or Mrs Smith now die on or after 17 August 2015, then the rules relating to who will inherit the French property will be the rules of succession in the UK -as this is where Mr and Mrs Smith are habitually resident. 

This will be the case unless Mr and Mrs Smith have made a choice of the law that would apply to their French property e.g. they may actually want the French rules to apply.  This choice of law can be made prior to 17th August, and as long as it is made in accordance with the regulations it will be valid as long as the person dies after 17th August.

It is therefore very important that Mr and Mrs Smith consider what they would like to happen to their French property.

It is recommended that anyone who has a connection with the UK and another EU member state, reviews their Will in light of these new succession rules. 

If you do wish to undertake a review then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our lifetime planning team, who will be happy to assist on 01792 773 773 or email