What is the EU Succession Regulation and how could it affect your estate planning?

Since leaving the European Union in December last year, worldwide estate planning is becoming an increasingly hot topic.

If you have overseas assets, it is only right that you want them protected and passed down exactly as intended. And it’s our job to ensure that happens.

As part of this process, we make sure clients understand how the EU Succession Regulation works and how it might affect their plans.

If you have overseas property or assets, here’s what you need to know.

What is the EU Succession Regulation?

Introduced in 2015, the EU Succession Regulation (EU 650/2012) aims to unify succession laws across EU member states and third-party countries.

Under these rules, anyone can elect their law of nationality to apply – but only if they expressively do so, for example, by including a statement in their Will.

It means that the succession laws of one jurisdiction will govern a person’s entire EU estate, making estate planning simpler and probate faster.

It does not, however, change how an estate is taxed.

How can the EU Succession Regulation support estate planning in the UK?

While the UK opted out of this regulation at the outset (and is therefore not bound by its terms), the rules can still support estate planning if a British national elects UK law (England & Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) to apply across the entirety of their EU estate.

This is because EU countries that have opted into the regulation continue to be bound to respect the election.

For example, a British citizen living in France can declare in their Will that English and Welsh law should apply to all of their estate – even in France, where forced heirship rules apply.

If an election is not made, the relevant law is determined by the deceased’s habitual residence, which is “the country where the deceased was habitually resident at the time of death” or “where the deceased was most closely connected”.

Does the EU Succession Regulation continue to apply after Brexit?

Yes, UK citizens can continue to elect UK law, despite Brexit.

For more help and advice on related matters, please get in touch with our Solicitor Adam Hogg of our Private Client, Wills and Probate Team on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or at adam.hogg@mackrell.com 

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Adam Hogg
Adam is a solicitor based in the Private Client Team, who is experienced in acting for multi-jurisdictional high-net-worth individuals and families, who he advises on a broad spectrum of private wealth matters.