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Overseas Property Affected by EU Inheritance Law Reform

Many owners of properties abroad are unaware that “forced heirship” rules mean they cannot fully choose who will inherit properties in most European countries, with local laws usually stipulating that a certain share of a property must pass on to particular family members, even if it is against the wishes of the owner of the property.
However, new EU succession regulations which were introduced on 17th August, 2015 (and will apply in relation to deaths after this date) will allow these property owners to specify that a property should be bequeathed under the law of their country of nationality or “habitual residence”.


Along with the UK and Denmark, Ireland opted out of the new succession regulations. However, Irish residents are likely to still benefit from the rules if they own a property in one of the 24 other EU member countries, including Spain, France, Portugal or Germany.  This is because they will be able to elect for the law of their own nationality – i.e. Irish law – to apply in these countries, which are bound by the new regulations.


For those with property abroad, who wish for it to be passed on after their death in accordance with Irish law, consideration should be given to either making a new will, or updating an existing one, clearly indicating that you want Irish law to govern your estate.


The change does not affect tax rules, which are applied in the country where a property is located.

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