General News

Holiday home Brits urged to review wills

Alice Blezard September 4, 2015

A change in EU inheritance law has prompted solicitors to warn Britons with holiday homes in European countries to check their wills.

Law Society

Under new rules which came into force on August 17, UK residents with assets in Europe may be unnecessarily subjecting their property or assets to local laws.

The law of ‘forced heirship’ in European countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Italy means that you are compelled to leave a certain percentage of your estate to your descendants, regardless of your wishes. This can cause distress and hardship to a surviving spouse or civil partner.

The change in EU Law makes it easier for UK nationals to avoid this, however they need to make this clear in their will, and explicitly state what legal jurisdiction they want their estate to be handled in.

Gary Rycroft, a solicitor and member of the Law Society’s Wills and Equity committee says that the recent high-profile death of TV star Cilla Black has brought the issue into focus.

He said: “It is assumed Cilla had her legal affairs in order and the beneficiaries of her estate will be her children. But ownership of foreign property is an extra complication when a loved one dies and with Spain for example, there are issues with regard to Spanish ‘death duty’ and how that interplays with inheritance tax payable in the UK.”

Gary said that Britons who were unsure of their position should speak to a solicitor.

He added; “A solicitor will be able to help people update their will by making a ‘choice of law’. This means people can choose whether to have English law apply upon their death or the law of the country where they have property or assets.”

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