Our clients had recently retired and had made the decision to sell their house in England and buy a property in Italy. They were planning to live in Italy permanently, though they would be leaving their savings in a bank account in the UK.
Though they were excited about what the future held, our clients also wanted to ensure they were prepared for the possibility of reaching the end of their lives in Italy. They were aware that Italian succession law is different to the law in England and Wales, and wanted to avoid the ‘forced heirship’ rules that apply there.
We were able to offer legal advice on EU Succession Regulation, which applies to deaths that occurred on or after 14th August 2014. Though the regulation does not apply in the UK, it was relevant to our clients as it does apply in Italy. According to the regulation, the default position for individuals who are ‘habitually resident’ in Italy at the time of their death is for their estate to be dealt with under the Italian laws of succession.
However, EU Succession Regulation does allow individuals the option to override this default by stating in their Will that they want their estate to be dealt with according to the laws of their own national country.
This meant we were able to work with our clients to update their existing wills to ensure they clearly stated that their estates should be dealt with according to the law of England and Wales, not Italian law.
This small but significant change allowed our clients to set off for their new life in Italy safe in the knowledge that their wishes in regard to succession law were clearly recorded and legally sound.