Successions with cross-border elements are usually characterized by their high complexity, as laws on such matters vary considerably even from one European Union country to another. Let alone if other countries are considered!

For anyone who has the misfortune to be involved with a cross-border estate it can be a complex and frustrating process, not least because the inheritance laws of different countries may apply to different assets within the estate.

Further to this, you may know that the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union passed a Regulation (EU Regulation 650/2012 on International Successions, adopted on 4th of July 2012) which came into force on 17th of August 2015. This makes urgent for individuals and couples to assess their situations and, possibly, to determine which law should apply to their succession.

Time is of the essence because checking one’s status, deciding what is appropriate, determining estate arrangements, adapting one’s marriage contract, strengthening it with a will, etc., all require reflection and time to accomplish the necessary formalities.  This will help significantly in simplifying inheritance settlement and avoiding disputes when the will of the deceased involves the legal systems of more than one Member State, and will provide certainty as to which law will apply in governing a succession.

The main advantage to you is that this EU Regulation enables you to choose the law of the country of your nationality to govern your succession. The person drawing up a will has the option of having his or her will read under the law of his or her country of origin. This will give EU and other foreing citizens in general a new right, which is seen as a major improvement, as it will allow anyone living abroad within the EU to retain close links with their home country and ensure that specific national provisions, such as rules governing gifts made during a lifetime, are respected. Furthermore the law chosen does not need to be the law of another Member State of the EU, it can be USA´s, Canada´s, Australia´s, Japan´s …

Despite the fact that the UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out of this EU Regulation, it will still have relevance for citizens of these countries, and even for nationals from outside the EU. It will apply to those who are habitually resident in Spain or have some connections/interests in our country.  Even citizens with assets in Spain, who were habitually resident here within the previous 5 years, will be subject to this EU Regulation and the jurisdiction of our courts.

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