This EU succession regulation applies to all EU citizens residing in a country other than that of their nationality and was be introduced with effect from 17th August 2015. The Regulation itself was passed in 2012.
These new uniform rules of Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 (also known as “Brussels IV”) on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession will make sure that:
- a given succession is treated coherently, under a single law and by one single authority;
- citizens are able to choose whether the law applicable should be that of their habitual residence or that of their nationality;
- parallel proceedings and conflicting judicial decisions are avoided;
- mutual recognition of decisions relating to succession in the EU is ensured.
The aim of this regulation is to simplify succession law across Europe. The Regulation applies a single national law to a person’s moveable and immoveable property upon death and applies to both testate and intestate succession. The applicable law will be that of the country of the deceased’s habitual residence at the time of death, unless stated otherwise.
The EU regulation states that unless the testator has specifically elected in his last will and testament that he wishes the law of his nationality to apply then in the absence of any such election it will be Spanish succession law that applies to the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
In the UK and Ireland generally the testator has free disposition meaning he is free to leave his estate or assets to whoever he wishes. Spanish law in this field is very different. In Spain the testator does not have free disposition as there are compulsory heirship rules stating that two-thirds of the deceased estate must pass to the deceased’s children.
This change in law affects only those that are habitually resident in Spain. Habitually resident means residing permanently in Spain for 2 years or more.
It should also be noted UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out of the Regulation.
REGULATION (EU) No 650/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession
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