UK: Will The EU Succession Regulation (Brussels IV) Affect Your Estate, Even After Brexit?

Last Updated: 19 April 2018
Article by Kirsten Pettit

increasing numbers of us owning assets abroad as well as at home, it's more important than ever to consider our financial affairs from more than one country's perspective. This particularly applies to Wills and succession.

The introduction of the EU Succession Regulation (known as Brussels IV) means it is now vital to have appropriate advice, to ensure your assets in each jurisdiction are protected for future generations.

Brussels IV has been in place since 17 August 2015. Its intention was to simplify issues relating to succession across the EU, and it affects any individual with a connection to any EU member state. Whilst the UK (and Ireland and Denmark) opted out of this legislation, it's still relevant to any UK resident individuals who own assets in any other EU member state.

Does Brussels IV affect me?

It does, if you answer 'yes' to both of the following questions:

  • Do you have a connection with more than one country? For example, do you live in one country and own property or are a national in another?
  • Is at least one of the countries you are connected with an EU member state (excluding the UK, Ireland and Denmark)?

If Brussels IV does affect you (or is likely to in future) you need to know which country's law will govern who inherits your estate when you die.

What does Brussels IV do?

Knowing which country's law will apply to your estate is important, as many countries across Europe dictate that specified shares of your estate must pass to close family members, rather than be decided freely by the testator.

Each country has its own rules to decide which law applies and, historically, the conflicts between each country concerning these rules has been complicated and ambiguous. Brussels IV's aim was to reduce the uncertainty and to introduce common conflict of law rules for the EU member states which signed up to the regulation.

The rules came into force from 17 August 2015, but will also affect any Wills in place before that date.

Which country's law applies to my estate under Brussels IV?

In the EU member states where Brussels IV applies, the law that will apply to your estate as a whole will be the law of the country where you are habitually resident, at the time of your death.

The only circumstances where the 'habitual residence' default will be overridden are:

  • If you are "manifestly more closely connected with another country" when you died; or
  • You have chosen to apply the law of your nationality instead. A choice of law can be made by Will or by Codicil. The choice of law does not need to be explicit – if you have already made a Will in accordance with the law of your nationality, it may be treated as if you had chosen to apply that law indirectly. This applies to Wills made even before Brussels IV comes into force.

For example, if you have lived in England all your life but own a holiday home in France, the default position as of 17 August 2015 is that the succession law of England and Wales will apply to your French assets on your death (as you are habitually resident in England).

Alternatively, if you were born in England but have recently moved to France for work and die whilst living in France (and own assets in France) it may be unclear whether the habitual residence default should apply or whether you are more closely connected with England and Wales. However, if you have already made a Will under the law of England and Wales, you may have made an indirect choice for the law of England and Wales to apply to your succession.

Applying the facts for each individual case will determine which law should apply. Nevertheless, it's important to understand the potential implications and make your intentions as clear as possible. You should also have the most efficient structure in place to mitigate any inheritance tax due in each jurisdiction.

What are the advantages of making a choice of law in my Will?

Because of the risk of uncertainty in the examples given above, choosing to apply the law of your nationality will ensure your estate is governed by the law with which you are most familiar.

If you are likely to change the country where you are habitually resident, you can achieve certainty by making a direct choice of law in your Will.

Even making a Will in England and Wales (or Scotland or Northern Ireland) to cover your worldwide assets may constitute an indirect choice for the law of your country of nationality. To eliminate any uncertainty, we recommend you take appropriate advice and make a direct choice of the law you want to apply.

What else should I know about Brussels IV?

Brussels IV does not affect every aspect of your estate when you die – it only applies when determining who can benefit from your estate. Generally speaking, assets located in another jurisdiction will be taxed in accordance with the rules of that country (subject to any double tax treaties in existence).

The tax implications of including structures (like any kind of trust or including any age contingencies) can be incredibly costly. It's therefore vital to ensure you have advice from all the countries concerned, before any Wills are finalised.

Claims against your estate in another EU member state may still be possible if forced heirship rules are overridden in your will.

Doesn't Brexit mean this won't affect UK nationals?

Even after the UK has left the EU in 2019, Brussels IV will still affect UK nationals with assets in another member state in exactly the same way. This is because the UK did not opt into the regulation in the first place, so the UK is already considered a third state for the purposes of this regulation.

What if I am a national of an EU member state with assets in the UK?

If you are a national of an EU member state which has signed up to Brussels IV and you own assets in the UK, you cannot choose the law of your nationality to apply to the succession of your UK assets. This is because the UK chose to opt out of this Regulation.

If you own assets in more than one EU member state, you should still consider how the succession of those assets should be dealt with, and you can choose how to deal with your assets elsewhere in the EU, outside of the UK. UK assets will always be governed either by a validly executed Will or, if no Will exists, the intestacy rules.

What should I do now?

If you think Brussels IV affects you or you are concerned it will affect you in future, it's important to review your Will to ensure you have considered all the options. When updating your Will, make sure you have advice from each of the countries where your assets are located, so the tax implications in each country can be taken into account before any documents are put in place. We can introduce you to advisors in each relevant jurisdiction and liaise with foreign lawyers on your behalf.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Maitland Group
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Maitland Group
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions