Post Brexit: Living, working or owning property in the EU

Posted by Mark Spash on
Brits who live, work and/or who own assets in the EU, could still be impacted post-Brexit by EU Regulations when it comes to administering their estate. 

According to recent figures, an estimated 2.2 million Brits live and work elsewhere in Europe and a further 1 million Brits own a holiday home in Europe[1].  

Are you one of those Brits lucky enough to live elsewhere in Europe or own a property? Whether that property is your permanent home, a place to while away the winter months or a place to grab a couple of weeks' R&R in the summer, Brexit will have given rise to a huge number of questions, including what effect it will have on your estate when you die.

In August 2015, the EU Succession Regulation came into force. This regulates which country's laws will apply when dealing with the death of an individual who had connections to multiple countries, one of which is an EU member state.

Although the UK opted out of the Regulation, it could still have a bearing on Brits who live and work in the EU and/or who own assets in the EU.

Who does it impact?

In broad terms, if you have connections to more than one country and one of these countries is an EU member state which has adopted the Regulation, your estate upon your death could be affected by the Regulation. For individuals in the UK, this will remain the case even after the UK has left the EU if you continue to have a connection to any EU member state (barring Denmark and Ireland).

The Regulation has a wide effect. Amongst other things, it could affect:

  • Which country's law applies to your estate – the default position is that the country where you were habitually resident will govern the succession of your estate, but this can be overridden, for example if you choose to apply the law of your nationality instead. This must be done expressly in your Will or codicil to your Will. Determining where you are 'habitually resident' is not necessarily straightforward and can be open to interpretation.
  • Who administers your estate – in the UK, the administration of your estate is up to those who are named as executors in your Will (or your closest family if you die without a Will). However, in many EU member states, it is the beneficiaries of the Will who are responsible for this.
  • Who can make claims against your estate
  • Which court decides any disputes about your estate

Anyone who knows or suspects that they have a connection to more than one country (and that at least one of those countries is in the EU) should ensure that they have considered this in their estate planning. It is vital to review your position, including your Will, or take steps to make a Will if you don't have one. Your will should consider which country's law will apply to your estate and what effects this will have.

For more information on making a Will and estate planning, please contact Blake Morgan's Succession and Tax team.

 

[1] Source: https://www.aplaceinthesun.com/news/feature/tabid/131/EntryId/3177/How-Will-a-Brexit-Affect-EU-Property-Owners.aspx

About the Authors

Photograph of Mark Spash

Mark is the Regional Senior Partner for the firm's London office. He has a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and trustees on a wide range of complex tax and succession planning issues both onshore and offshore.

Mark Spash
Email Mark
020 7014 5248

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Photograph of Sophie Cisler

Sophie is a Solicitor in the Succession and Tax team, based in London.

Sophie Cisler
Email Sophie
0207 014 5258

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