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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
In August 2015, most of the EU member states incorporated into law the EU Succession Regulations which change the way your property can be dealt with when you die. The UK has not incorporated the Regulations; however, if you own property in a EU member state and are a UK national, the Rules do affect you.
Under the new Regulations, you can now choose to apply the law of your nationality, rather than the law where your property is situated, to apply to the succession of your EU property. This is particularly useful for British nationals who own property in places like France where they have rules that determine which family members can inherit property (often called 'forced heirship').
For example, Steven and Mary are British and live in England. They have a holiday cottage in France. If they do nothing, the holiday cottage will be governed by French law and the forced heirship rules will apply. If however, Steven and Mary include a choice of English law in their Wills, France will apply English law to the French cottage and they can leave it to whomever they want.
If you have property in a EU member state (except the UK, Ireland or Denmark), then you ought to take advice as to whether it is sensible in your circumstances to make a declaration choosing the law of your nationality to apply. It may be that you need to update your English Will and/or any foreign Will that you already have in place to deal with that property.
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