New EU Inheritance Law – Should you review your Will?

New EU rules aim to ease succession across the EU by giving an individual the ability to opt for either the law of the country of their nationality or their last habitual residence to apply to their estate.

Whilst the UK has opted out of the new rules, the changes will still have an impact on UK citizens who have assets in other EU countries.

The new rules allow an individual to opt out of forced heirship rules that apply in a number of EU countries and instead choose to apply UK law to their assets outside the UK.  For example, a woman in the UK with property in France would previously have been obliged to leave it to her husband and children under French forced heirship rules.  However, under the new rules, she can choose to apply UK law to the property and leave it to different beneficiaries.

If an individual does not opt out of the new rules then the default position is that the law of the country where someone is a habitual resident when they die will govern the succession of their estate.

Furthermore, the new rules will also mean that the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (recently highlighted by a high profile case in the Court of Appeal) will apply in other EU countries.

For citizens who were not born in the UK, it could mean that English laws will now be applied to their overseas assets without them realising.

Those who do not want English law to apply to assets which are held in a country that has opted in to the new rules will need to alter their Will to make it clear which country’s law is to apply.

For more information regarding the new EU rules and whether your Will needs review, please see:

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/new-eu-inheritance-law-should-prompt-wills-reviews-say-experts/5050595.article

For more information or to review your Will, contact Annemarie Swainson or Joshua Eva in Wells or Caroline Fletcher in Frome.