Warning for will-holders as expat succession rules could change after Brexit

As talks continue surrounding Brexit and the UK’s formal departure from the EU, expats are being urged to update some of their important legal paperwork before the exit deadline.

The EU’s succession regulation laws came into force in 2015 but the UK was one of the existing EU nations choosing not to adopt it. Therefore, under current succession regulation rules, property that is owned by an individual at the point of their death is left to their children, either in full or in part, as “protected heirs”.

Many expats who are now living in the EU may not realise that their wills need to be updated to include a particular clause if they wish for it to be enforced in line with English common law, as opposed to EU law.

This is particularly important for any individuals no longer living in the UK, who may not wish to let their children automatically inherit their homes. For example, French law states that children are not to be disinherited completely - so without an updated clause in the will, French law would force the individual to pass their estate to a child, and they in turn would be entitled to a reserved portion of it.

If you are a former resident of the UK and are now living in another country within the EU, it is important that you update your will as soon as possible before the Brexit deadline. This may seem like a while away, but with existing restrictions and the on-going pandemic causing delays, it is best to act now to make sure you are protected.

If you would like to update your will or you would like some further advice, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.