Inheriting European holiday homes – what is the position post Brexit?

Published by Simon Levine on 19 January 2021

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The UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU has left private individuals with assets in European countries wondering what might happen to those assets should they die. Would, for example, a Will made in the UK apply to a holiday home in the South of France?

Several years ago, the EU introduced laws to simplify succession across member countries, called Brussels IV. They allow for anyone to elect for the laws of the country of their nationality to apply to any EU assets for inheritance purposes. So as an illustration, a UK national could opt for UK laws to apply to the inheritance of their French holiday home. This might be useful to avoid the forced heirship and other inheritance regimes.

The UK opted out of Brussels IV, which means for example, a French national cannot elect for French law to apply to his UK property. The UK is therefore treated as a ‘third country’ and following Brexit will remain a third country, meaning in practice, very little will change going forwards.

Individuals will therefore be relieved to know that in practice Brexit has had very little impact on these arrangements, but it does continue to mean that Brussels IV will need to be considered when drafting Wills. Clients should still seek appropriate specialist advice to ensure their European assets are appropriately safeguarded under their Wills.

Whilst the position on succession has thankfully not changed greatly, there may be other practical and tax changes caused by Brexit on which you should also take advice. For example, on 1 January 2021 if you are UK resident and own a holiday home in France you must now appoint a local tax representative when you sell it.  Another change is that UK nationals not resident in France can no longer benefit from the exemption to appoint a représentant fiscal on the sale of French real estate.

If you would like further information on this topic, please contact us here.

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