The EU Succession Regulation aims to harmonise the succession regimes of the various EU member states and came into effect last year.
The UK opted out of the legislation, but this does not prevent it from affecting those with assets in other EU jurisdictions, such as France and Spain, and our advice for UK clients has generally been to include a Succession Election in their Wills to take advantage of the legislation in an attempt to ensure that their UK Will governs the devolution of their foreign Estate.
The vote on 23 June 2016 in favour of “Brexit” appears to rule out any long term possibility that UK clients will be able to take of advantage of the Regulation in this way and were the UK to leave the EU – which has not yet formally occurred – UK citizens would lose the right to elect English law as the governing jurisdiction in respect of their assets.
UK residents with foreign property in one of the EU member states may now need to ensure that they have an up-to-date Will in every jurisdiction in which property is held (including the UK) and seek advice where necessary on taking steps to avoid the application of continental forced heirship rules (especially in the case of second marriages and step-children).
We will continue to consider the position as more details on any exit deal and how it may affect UK clients with overseas assets are announced.
If you have any specific questions please do not hesitate to contact a member of the private client team on +44 (0) 20 7493 6151.