The European Union has put into effect new rules on inheritance laws that allow people to select which country’s laws they want to have applied to their wills. Americans who own property in the EU that they wish to pass on through their estate need to prepare for this change.
In the past, if you had a will written and executed in one country, and you died in that country, the law of that country would govern the distribution of your estate. A new rule from the European Union that is currently in effect will give you the option to choose which country’s laws you want to apply to your will. The country you have chosen must be designated in your will.
Thus, for example, if a German is living in Italy, he or she can write a will to be used in Italy but that applies German law. This is not limited to nations in Europe. An American living in Europe could chose to apply US law. The Connexion reported on this new rule in "New EU inheritance rules now in force ."
This change could also impact Americans in another way.
Previously, if a US resident had property in a European Union country, then that property was dealt with under the laws of the European country. Now, it might be possible for the property to be handled under the laws of the person's state of residence. However, as with all rules and regulations, it remains to be seen how courts interpret and use this new rule.
Contact your estate planning attorney if you may be impacted by these developments.
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