Brussels IV; good news for EU property owners?

If the thought of what will happen to your Courchevel chalet, Parisian pied-a-terre, Barcelona bolt-hole, Helsinki hide-away, Tuscan tepee… (sorry, I WILL stop now) when you die has been bothering you. We have some good news for EU property owners!

Due to the increased mobility of the EU population and the ever-growing number of cross-border successions – that’s people inheriting foreign property – taking place every year, around 450,000 at an estimated value of more than EUR 120 billion – the need for greater simplicity and legal certainty was recognised.

Step forward the EU Law of Succession or… Brussels IV to its friends.

Although adopted way back in July 2012 the EU Law of Succession only came into play on the 17th August this year (2015).

This means that anyone who owns property in a country that is not their habitual residence can now elect in their wills that the law of their nationality should apply to the succession of their relevant EU property, avoiding any strange local laws like forced heirship(!) which would otherwise apply.

So, for EU property owners the European Certificate of Succession means that:

  • Successions are treated coherently, by one court applying one law
  • You are able to choose whether the law applicable to your succession should be that of your last habitual residence or your nationality
  • Parallel proceedings and conflicting judicial decisions are avoided
  • Decisions relating to successions given in one EU country are recognised and enforced in other EU countries.

The initiative, however, does not alter the substantive national rules on successions. Meaning that property and family law, who inherits including what share of the estate goes to children and spouse AND tax issues are still governed by national rules.

Although the UK has not opted in (as YET) anyone who owns assets in an EU State which has opted in can still enjoy the benefits. Providing they die after the 17th August 2015 of course.

If you are that way inclined you can read the regulation in full here. Spoiler… it’s VERY long.

The introduction of this new ruling is another excellent example of why you need to keep your will up to date. If you have a will that needs updating or is one of the 30mil+ UK adults that don’t have one at all please contact Future Legal Services on 01322 664885 today.

Recommended Posts