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if you have assets in europe please read this

You may not have heard of EU Regulation 650/2012 but if you are a UK citizen with assets in other parts of the EU then this Regulation (which came into effect in August 2015) is intended to ensure that they will pass under UK law.

However, unless your Will includes a specific wording the law of the country where the assets are held will dictate what happens when you die regardless of what your Will says. We take for granted the right to, within reason, leave our assets as we wish. In Europe the law dictates what happens even if there is a Will. But since the Regulation it is possible to put something in your Will that allows assets held in almost all of Europe to pass according to UK laws. We are pleased to arrange this in a Will for clients with assets in Europe. And it may surprise you that we do this without any additional charge.

If you have assets in continental Europe please use the READ MORE link below or call the helpline. Remember, it costs no extra to add this when we write your Will.

the problem

Within what is deemed to be reasonable we do enjoy testamentary freedom and, frankly, we tend to take it for granted to the extent that some people with property in France, for example, are unaware that they cannot simply do anything they want with it when they die. This is true even if you just want to do what to most of us is the obvious thing and leave it to a spouse or partner.

This freedom does not exist in other European countries who impose regulations on what happens to assets after death. Those regulations vary from country to country but a certain proportion must be left to certain people. In continental Europe a big part of an estate (often around half) is reserved for the surviving children of the deceased and must be equally divided between them. This makes it impossible to disinherit financially irresponsible children or even to make appropriate provision for a spouse; it also makes it hard to reward a daughter who gave up a career to care for her parents.

Also “clawback” laws exist in many countries preventing parents from dodging forced heirship by giving assets away in their lifetime. This applies to gifts made in the last years of life (two years in Austria, ten in Germany); in some countries, no time limit applies.

So, if a British person has property in France, for example, the laws of forced heirship will apply to the part of their estate in France. People are not always aware of this.

the solution

Since August 17th 2015, when the new regulation came into force, any British national who has property in one of the participating States can choose UK law to govern who gets what when they die. However, one must make a formal election for that to happen. You must put a provision in your Will stating that you wish English law to be the applicable law for assets situated in an EU State. Those with property in an EU state should consider a new Will to include the necessary provision to take advantage of Regulation 650/2012. The UK has opted out of the Regulation [and Ireland and Denmark] BUT British nationals can still make an election under the laws of the participating countries within a Will written in the UK.

(Please note that local tax laws will apply to assets in the E.U. and English tax laws will apply on death in the usual way. Clients must seek specific advice in regard to those local tax laws).