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Holiday Home Law Prompts Will Changes

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Recent changes to EU succession laws will now make it easier to pass on foreign holiday homes, but only if appropriate changes are made to your will.

A holiday home is a luxury many of us dream of and will want to pass on to our families in the future.  Retiring to live in the sun is a dream many of us have, but in Europe ‘forced heirship’ rules state just who can inherit your estate and how much of it they are entitled to.

The new rules, which came into effect on Monday, mean that English people can now opt for any assets they own in Europe to be treated under UK inheritance laws in ‘a choice of law’.
This change aims to ease succession across the EU by giving individuals the chance to opt either for the law of the country of their nationality or their last habitual residence to be applicable to their inheritance across Europe. The default position will mean the law of the country where someone is habitually resident when they die governs succession to their estate as a whole unless changes are made to a will.

The UK has opted out of the new rules, but the changes will still have an impact on UK citizens with properties or other assets in the EU. Britain’s inheritance laws are unusual compared to the rest of Europe in that you can leave your assets to whomever you choose.  In the example of a married couple with two children who own assets in France, if one of the spouses dies the estate does not automatically pass to the surviving spouse as it would in the UK. The surviving spouse is only entitled to a quarter of the estate and the two children inherit three-quarters of the estate between them.

“Your Will can say you make a choice of law so that the English law is applied and if anyone has a holiday home or assets abroad I would urge them to look again at their Wills and make the appropriate changes,” said Daniel Prince, Partner at Pearson Solicitors.

“The Regulation says that if you make a Will you can opt to leave your assets in accordance with the law of your nationality rather the country of your residence. It is therefore vital that those clients who are making the move abroad within the EU make a new Will to make sure that their wishes are considered after the Regulation comes into force,” he warned.

For further advice on Inheritance, Making a Will and Managing Your Estate contact Pearson Solicitors on 0161 785 3500

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.