Different national legislation governing inheritance has made the issue of succession highly complicated where people own properties in more than one country. Those differences frequently led to conflict of law problems for property owners. However, the introduction of new EU legislation has simplified cross-border succession.
The European Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 applies local succession laws, of the country where the person usually lives, to the distribution of their estate. Furthermore a standard form, the European Certificate of Succession has been introduced to enable heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate to prove their status and exercise their rights or powers in other EU countries.
The Regulation also allows citizens to choose to apply the succession laws of their country of nationality to pass on property on their death save if the property is situated in the UK, Ireland and Denmark. These rules are only applicable to deaths occurring on or after 17 August 2015.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland and Denmark who own property in other EU countries which have adopted the Succession Regulation can now benefit from the legislation and can now elect to apply the law of Ireland to their EU property. The new regulation allows Irish citizens to avoid applying some form of forced heirship which most EU member states have. For example France has strict inheritance rules that children have certain rights to their deceased parent’s estate.
This is great news for Irish owners of foreign (EU) properties who wish for it to be passed on after their death as we can now make wills to apply Irish succession laws to property situated in most of the EU (save for the UK and Denmark).
If you have already made a Will you should change it to take in to account the new Regulations.
This article is a general review of the law on the subject and is not intended to be a complete statement of the law. Specific legal advice must be sought on a case by case basis. For more information please contact Emma Ledford.