Writing Wills for your European Property

The global disruption caused by the pandemic has led many people to re-consider their way of life.  The lure of the relaxed lifestyle across a number of European countries together with the warmer climate and Mediterranean diet has resulted in an increase in British citizens relocating to countries in the European Union.  

The latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Eurostat report that approximately 900,000 British citizens are long-term residents in EU countries.  Many people have decided to live permanently in a property in Europe initially purchased as a holiday home.  Also, as real estate remains one of the best investments an individual can make, other people have decided to buy a well-positioned property in a country that they have grown to love through foreign holidays in Europe. 

However, there are some crucial considerations that should be addressed, such as how your estate will be dealt if you have not got round to drafting a will and you die intestate.  Frequently, a property in Spain, Italy, Portugal and other European countries is purchased without recognising that the laws of succession vary quite considerably from country to country.

Francesca Morelli, based in the London office commented “Italy, Spain and Portugal are now governed by Regulation (EU) 650/2012, known as the Succession Regulation (or Brussels IV) drafted in 2015 to unify and regularise the application of succession laws across Europe.  If a person dies intestate, the laws of succession dictate to whom a specific proportion of an estate is inherited by each beneficiary.  The designated beneficiaries are always relatives, with no provision, in most countries, for any benefit for an unrelated person such as the decease’s unmarried partner or step-children or friends”  Francesca further commented “to protect your beneficiaries, you are strongly advised to make duplicate wills.”

Most people try their best to ensure that when they die their estate passes to their beneficiaries with the least possible disruption and without causing their heirs any problems.  In order to ensure that your estate passes to the beneficiaries of your choice, the best option is to draft two wills, one under the law of England & Wales and one under the law of your country of domicile in which it is made clear that the law of England & Wales should apply. 

It is imperative that your will is drafted without conflicting terms or ambiguities, which could occur if the testator instructs two separate law firms, one firm to draft the England & Wales will and another to draft the will under the laws of the country of domicile, particularly if the two lawyers do not have sight of the other will. 

Giambrone & Partners’ well-respected expert inheritance lawyers can advise you and help you navigate through the considerable complexities of cross-border wills and probate under one roof. We can also provide guidance with tax and trusts both within the EU and further afield.  Our lawyers are multi-jurisidictional and multi-lingual and can advise you in your own language which will enable you to have complete understanding of the terms of your wills.

Francesca Morelli assists private clients primarily with real estate purchase in Italy. Francesca is highly regarded, she provides clients with step-by-step guidance ensuring that their purchase is trouble-free.

Francesca also has experience and expertise with Italian probate, including complex high-value matters with cross-border assets requiring expertise related to several jurisdictions. She also assists executors and trustees regarding the routine administration of an estate.

Francesca has also successfully mediated in a number of contentious challenges to a will, bringing conflicts to a satisfactory conclusion avoiding protracted and costly litigation. Equally, Francesa can assist clients to mount a challenge to a will when required.

If you would like to have more information about a will for your overseas property please contact Francesca's clerk Sam Groom on SG@giambronelaw.com or please click here