Dec 2009 | European cross border succession - cross border succession planning made simpler?

On 15 October 2009 the European Commission adopted a regulation to define pan-European law on cross-border succession and wills with a view to simplifying the legal process in cross border succession cases through the application of a person's 'habitual place of residence'. This regulation is known as the Brussels IV Regulation on Succession.

The regulation proposes the creation of a "European certificate of inheritance" which will provide an agreed mechanism to determine which state's succession law will apply. The regulation also proposes that testators may choose the succession regime governing disposal of all their European assets based on the law of their nationality.

While it was hoped that this regulation once adopted would introduce more certainty and harmonisation to the disposal of cross border assets on death so it would be clear as to which law should apply where currently there is a conflict of laws, nevertheless there are come concerns that uncertainty remains because, among other things, the term habitual residence has not been defined in the regulation.

On 15 December 2009 the Irish Government decided to opt out of the regulation (as did the UK Government) however it is expected that they will remain privy to the negotiations to the draft regulation and there is a possibility that they might opt back in again.  Currently the regulation is being negotiated among the remaining Member States and under review by the European Parliament.


Aileen Keogan | Solicitor & Tax Consultant | 21 The Avenue | Louisa Valley | Leixlip | Co. Kildare | Ireland

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