Duncan Lewis

Romford Office

Crime and Civil cases

house 40 staff

Changed EU regulations on inheritance laws - how it would affect English resident with estate in France

Date: (17 December 2012)    |    

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The UK has opted out of the new rules by EU on inheritance laws which have come into effect from 16 August 2012. The law would apply from the 17 August 2015. though UK has chosen to stay out of the jurisdiction of the new laws it still has considerable relevance to UK residents and nationals because almost every EU country were seeking to adopt it.
The rule would matter as people resident in England can, in most cases, provide their wills that English law should apply to their estate in France, including French land. Provided this is done correctly. And any Englishman dying after 17 August 2015 would have English law applied in his case by the French notaire’.
This would be a significant and basic change which under the French law was not possible as French law was sacrosanct as far as French land was concerned regardless of whether the deceased died resident in England. It would be sensible to review existing wills.
The changed regulations are applicable to the succession of estates on death rather than to lifetime gifts. The general rule would make the law of the country applicable in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of his death.
This law would be applied to the deceased’s worldwide estate meaning only one law of the deceased’s resident country’s law would be applicable to the entire estate. The property could be moveable or fixed.
But if the deceased was noticeably was found to be closely connected to another country that country’s law would be applicable. An illustration to that effect would be, an Englishman who moved to France and died shortly thereafter, most likely would draw English law in his case.
A person could also choose the law for all his worldwide assets and they can choose between the law of their habitual residence or their nationality. A person with several nationalities could choose the nationality of his choosing which he / she could do by putting a declaration in their will.
But what they don’t do is dealing with tax matters, including inheritance tax or the registration of real estate. National law determines how inheritance tax is to be calculated and whether the estate or the beneficiary would be liable for the inheritance tax. It also do not deal with matrimonial property system such as marriage contracts meaning they would not deal with the issues of succession.
Though trusts are not guided under the regulations if a trust is created under a will the law would be applied with respect to the devolution of the assets which could be problematic in France.
The rule would be applicable to those who would make a will after 17 August 2015 and then die after that date.