Brexit: what this means for Private Law

Posted by Helen Bunker on
Once we've formally extracted ourselves from the EU, what will this mean on death for people owning assets in Europe - or where one spouse is 'European' and the other is now not?

Since 17 August 2015 we have been coming to terms with new EU legislation for succession (known as Brussels IV). Paradoxically this system is intended to unify the succession laws which apply to an estate, and now we have voted to leave just at the point when the member states choose to change things for good!

That said, the UK opted out of full implementation of the legislation, along with Ireland and Denmark, so the impact strangely has been simplified as there was some uncertainty as to how the legislation applied to the UK. The intention is that EU citizens are able to make an election of the law of the jurisdiction of their nationality to govern the whole of their estate (including foreign property located in another EU state). Post-Brexit the UK is clearly a 'third state' under the Regulation, like the USA

 This means less flexibility in the choice of succession rules and potentially more tax, although double taxation treaties should continue to apply. Our EU neighbours mainly favour a succession system which includes forced heirship, and we could find ourselves in a position where there is less choice on the ultimate distribution of foreign immoveable assets.

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Helen is the Divisional Director for Private Law and is responsible for the delivery of private law services across Blake Morgan’s six offices.

Helen Bunker
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