Foreign Assets

If you own assets abroad, the laws of that country may dictate who inherits the asset(s) on your death. It is important to familiarise yourself with the position and consider whether or not you should deal with any foreign assets in your English will, or prepare a separate will.

In England and Wales the principle of testamentary capacity means that people can more or less leave their estate to whomever they choose. This is not the case in all countries, and forced heirship rules may apply to assets owned in countries such as France or countries governed by Sharia law. There is also a risk that property will be subject to inheritance tax in both countries.

The EU Succession Regulation (also known as Brussels IV) was introduced to unify succession laws across EU member states and applies to deaths after 17th August 2015.

Although the UK has opted out of the provision, an election can now be made in your Will as to whether or not UK law will apply to your whole estate. The default provision is that the rules of the country in which you are habitually resident will apply but making an election will override this.

Habitual residence means somewhere that you live regularly. For individuals that split their time between several countries, this can be more difficult to interpret. Habitual residence is also different to the more complex concept of domicile, which can be difficult to define. It may be that you are considered to be habitually resident in one country, but domiciled in another. Similarly, you and your spouse or civil partner may have different residence and/or domicile, and this can impact on the spousal exemptions from inheritance tax that are available to you.

Habitual residence and domicile are global concepts that apply to any country, not just EU member states.

If you need advice on how these concepts apply to your situation, then our experienced team will be happy to assist.

Share this article

Submit to FacebookSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

City office

Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP
326 Old Street
London EC1V 9DR
DX: 137773 Finsbury 5

020 7613 1402

020 7613 2711  


West End office

Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP
77A Baker Street
London W1U 6RF
DX: 42722 Oxford Circus North

020 7467 5757

020 7467 5758

Manchester office

Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP
111 Piccadilly
Manchester M1 2HY

DX: 6967003 Manchester 94 M

0161 694 4404

0161 638 0930

Istanbul Office

Ronald Fletcher Baker Danismanlik Hizmetleri Avukatlik Ortakligi
Tesvikiye Cadessi
No: 28 Alhambra Apartmani
Nisantasi, İstanbul

07736 364222

Emergency number

07538 490647

Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Company number OC345891

City office ID 512598
West End office ID 523362.
Manchester office ID 630156

V.A.T. registration number: 2206798 63VAT

"Partner" denotes a senior member of the LLP or an employee with the equivalent standing.

PII cover - QBE Insurance (Europe) Limited. For further details please contact Rakeebah Rahim

Website design by coolgrey

Photography: Camilla Greenwell


Get a free conveyancing quote


View our privacy policy

We encourage you to contact us in the first instance if you are unhappy with the service you receive from us. Contact John O’Callaghan, the complaints partner at; alternatively in some circumstances you may be able to make use of the ODR platform.