Do you or your clients have a connection to or hold assets in an EU country? If so, you should consider the possible impact of recent changes to applicable EU Regulations when making or updating Wills.

On 17 August 2015, the EU Regulations No 650/2012 (known as Brussels IV) came into effect. While the Regulation was passed in 2012, it only applies to people who died on or after 17 August 2015. 

The Regulations are designed to ensure that residents of any state can choose to apply the succession laws of either their country of residence or that of their nationality to assets in other EU states, so that one law will apply to all assets.

While the UK, Ireland and Denmark opted out of participating in the new regime, it is still applicable to residents of the UK, Ireland and Denmark who have assets in member states or to residents of other member states that have assets in the UK, Ireland or Denmark.

The new regulations are important for EU residents as succession law varies considerably between EU countries, allowing people to avoid the “forced heirship” laws that apply in some countries, such as France, Italy and Spain. This creates certainty for testators and provides more flexibility when estate planning.