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Our approach to cross-border succession & inheritance disputes

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cross-border succession frequently asked questions

Cross-border succession will apply where an estate has elements from different jurisdictions e.g. where the Deceased was domiciled in France, but spent time in England and has assets in Germany.
Cross-border issues tend to arise in situations where someone passes away and either hasn’t left a will or their will is silent as to how their foreign assets are to be dealt with. A will is vital in succession and inheritance of estates, and is particularly important when dealing with cross-border matters.  It is always a good idea to have a Will in each jurisdiction where you have assets to avoid any issues cropping up further down the line. The most common manner of cross-border disputes arising is where:
  • The deceased didn’t leave a will in which case the law of the country where the asset is held may be deemed to apply, rather than the law of the country in which they are domiciled.
  • The deceased left a Will, but failed to declare the “law of nationality” within their Will. Declaring this means no matter where a person dies, their estate will be handled under the jurisdiction of their country of nationality.
The EU Succession Regulation was introduced in 2012 with the intention of standardising succession laws across EU member states (but does not apply to the UK, Ireland and Denmark).   It is worth remembering however that cross-border issues of course can arise between England and Scotland. For people who have assets in states which have adopted the Regulation then the default position is that the succession of those assets will be governed by the law of country in which the deceased was habitually resident at death.  The exception to this is where a person chooses to adopt the law of their nationality in their Will or were clearly more closely connected with another country at death in which case the Regulation will be overridden. For example, in England, the default position is that succession of immoveable assets (e.g. your home) are governed by the law of the country where the asset is located whilst moveable assets (e.g cash) are governed by the law of your domicile. See more about this in our article here.
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