Expat Rules – New Brussels Directive

10.11.15

Brits living abroad, and anyone with a second home within the EU, could be in danger of losing out when it comes to leaving part or all of their estate to their preferred heirs following the introduction last month of an EU directive for succession law, warns OverseasGuidesCompany.com.

“Our concern is that not many Brits know about the new succession law that came into effect on 17th August, and therefore may be unaware that their chosen heirs are in fact not legally entitled to inherit any, or the preferred share, of their estate,” said Elaine Ferguson, Head of the company’s Resource Centre. “For many of those living in the EU, it will be a case of checking their will, and if this is not already the case (and where applicable, of course) stating within which succession law they would like applied to their assets (i.e. the UK's regulations of those of the jurisdiction within which they now live).

“The new directive was designed to make the succession laws clearer for citizens of the EU who are resident in a different country to where they are officially domiciled, as well as those who own second homes in EU countries different to their domicile. It states that the succession law of the country where a deceased person was 'habitually resident' at the time of their death (i.e. a British expat living in Spain or France) applies to the deceased assets.

“However, an individual can elect to apply the law of their nationality, i.e. the UK, to all their assets through a statement in their will or a similar document. This would apply only to the property of a non-resident homeowner and not their worldwide estate. Anyone who thinks they could be affected by the new legislation, should consult a lawyer, especially given the UK (as well as Ireland and Denmark) is opting out of it – which may well complicate things for some people.”

For more information visit: www.ec.europa.eu

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