Clare Harris

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Brexit and the EU Succession Regulation

Brexit / 08 January 2021

The EU Succession Regulation (‘the Regulation’) is the main piece of EU legislation impacting private client work.  Brexit does not alter its applicability in the UK, as the UK never adopted the Regulation and confirms the UK is treated as a third state.  The Regulation determines which law applies to the succession of the estate of a deceased person.  It does not affect how an estate is taxed.

Whilst it was never adopted, the Regulation still applies to estate planning as English private international law refers to moveable and immoveable assets.  Domicile determines the succession of moveable assets; you can find more information on domicile here.  The law where the property is situated governs the succession of immovable property.

Which law will apply?

Under the Regulation, you can elect for the law of your nationality to apply.  You must expressly declare your choice of nationality, e.g. by including a statement in your Will.  For example, a British national living in France can make a Will declaring the law of England and Wales should apply to all their estate, even assets in France.

If a choice of law is not made, the relevant law is determined by the deceased’s habitual residence, which is the country:

  1. where the deceased was habitually resident at the time of death; or
  1. where the deceased was most closely connected.

Why choose the law of England and Wales?

You have testamentary freedom in England and Wales, which means you are free to leave your assets to whomever you choose.  In other European countries, ‘forced heirship’ may apply to your worldwide estate.  These are a set of rules that set out exactly how an estate will pass on death.  In some countries for example you cannot disinherit children.

Should I have a Will to cover assets in another country?

If you are making more than one Will to cover assets in different countries, ensure one does not revoke the other and the terms do not conflict.  Having a Will in each country can make it easier to deal with your assets when you die.  It is important to take advice from a lawyer in the country where the assets are situated and make sure they know if you have made a Will in another country.

How can Greenwoods GRM help?

Talk to us about your situation, we can highlight the opportunities available to you help you to understand the most effective approach for you.  Call us on +44 (0)203 691 2080 to start the conversation.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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