Harmonisation of Succession Law

On the 17th of August 2015 the EU introduced a regulation, Regulation 650/2012, in an attempt to harmonise European Succession Law. Ireland, along with the UK and Denmark, opted out of the new succession regulations because it was felt that they would have "interfered to an unacceptable extent with the manner in which Estates are administered in this jurisdiction".

However people resident in Ireland can still benefit from the new regulation if they own a property in one of the other 24 EU member Countries. It has always been a source of confusion when making a Will in Ireland whether or not it would be effective in dealing with assets located in other Countries. A fairly typical example would be an Irish resident who owns a holiday home in France or Spain. Prior to the introduction of the regulation the best advice was for the owner of the holiday home to make a Will in Ireland and also in the Country where the holiday home was located. Now, even though the Government has opted out of the new regulation, an Irish resident can still elect for Irish law to apply in these Countries which are bound by the new regulations. Obviously Irish people with properties in the UK and Denmark won’t be able to elect for the law of their own nationality to apply. Given that the inheritance laws in the UK are essentially the same as in Ireland that will not pose any particular problems for Irish residents who own properties in the UK.

The best advice would be that an Irish resident would make a Will in Ireland dealing with his/her assets, including the assets based in the other EU Countries and also make a Will in the other Country where the asset is located which will stipulate that the law that governs the Will is Irish law.

By way of an example if an Irish resident has an asset in France and wishes to leave it to a friend it is essential that they avail of the new regulation as otherwise French law applies forced heirship rules. In such circumstances, in order for your Irish Will to be effective you need to make a Will in France which stipulates that the law which governs the asset will be Irish law.

The new regulation came into force on the 17th of August 2015 and only applies to deaths after the 17th of August 2015.

If you have property in any of the member states except the United Kingdom and Denmark you should stipulate in your Will that the law that is to govern your entire Estate is Irish law.

The regulation only affects succession law. It does not affect the individual member state’s entitlement to have unique tax treatment of the deceased’s person’s Estate.