The Europe wide succession regulations came into force in August last year, and despite the UK not being a signatory to the regulation, it may still affect the succession of the estates of UK nationals who own property in Europe as well as UK property owned by EU nationals.
Take for example, a British lady living in the UK who owns a holiday home in France. Before the regulations came into force or if she takes no action, her UK estate will pass in accordance with UK law and the French property will pass under French forced heirship rules. However, if she makes a Will and includes a choice of law clause in the Will, UK law can apply to the whole of her estate.
Or a family living and working in France who are UK nationals. They can now choose that UK law applies to all their assets, both in France and the UK pass in accordance with UK law rather than being subject to French law.
The default position under the regulations is that the law of the country where you were habitually resident when you died will be applied. The default position can be over-ridden if you were obviously more closely connected with another country or you make a choice to apply the law of the country of your nationality instead. However, it is not possible to choose the law of a country with which there is no connection.
Whilst the new regulations do make things simpler and can reduce uncertainty when a person dies owning property in more than one country, the rules are still quite complex and need to be applied with care on a case by case basis. We would advise anyone who thinks the new regulation might affect them, to have a chat with an experienced solicitor specialising in Wills and estate planning to make sure that your estate passes in accordance with your wishes.