Will Brexit Affect My Will?

Brexit affects just about everything…. but my will?  How on earth will Brexit affect my will?

Background

The law of succession is a set of rules that a country will apply on the death of a person.  This defines how the person’s estate will be distributed.  In England, the rules are clear but are able to be over-written by the use of a legal document known as a Will.  The extent to which a Will is able to override succession rules in other European member states varies.

The Succession Regulation, EU Regulation 650/2012, was introduced to allow individuals within Europe to know with certainty which law will govern their succession.  So a person is able to choose which set of laws apply to their will.

Effect of Regulations and Wills

The effect of this regulation is that only one set of rules applies, even if their property is located in more than 1 member state.

Let’s look at an example of an English person owning a holiday home in France.  Without the regulation, the French forced heirship rules would apply to the holiday home.  So, regardless of the person’s wishes, the holiday home would be distributed amongst the children because it is unlawful to disinherit your children in France.

By applying the EU 650/2012 regulation to the will, English law presides over both the property here and in France.  This gives the person the right to choose how to distribute their property by will alone, in compliance with English law.  The holiday home may be legally left to the spouse alone (or anyone else for that matter) and French law allows this to supersede their usual succession rules.

Impact of Brexit on Existing Wills

Britain has legally left the European Union.  The transition period has now ended and, finally, we have a deal!  But how Brexit will affect your will is still to be seen.  The withdrawal agreement will need to be analysed before clarity emerges in how to manage foreign property cases in the future.

What is definite, is that the Succession Regulation is no longer an option that we in Britain can choose to apply.  It is open only to members of the Succession Regulation Zone, of which we are no longer a member.  Wills should therefore be updated to applicable law and the EU Regulation removed.  It is important that our wills reflect our wishes, and more so that we can have confidence that our wishes will apply.

If you have not reviewed your will in a while, can you be sure that it is still compliant and that it still reflects your wishes?  You may not be worried about how Brexit will affect your will but what other factors have changed since it was last written?  We recommend that you review your wishes every 3 years and update as necessary.  Contact us today if you feel that changes are required to your existing will.

Tel: 07436 566932

E-mail: info@dogwoodwills.co.uk

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