Brussels IV — cross-border successions

Official statistics suggest that more than 450,000 cross-border successions occur in the EU every year, representing a value estimated to be worth more than €120bn (£95bn). Given this statistic, it seems staggering to think that each case would have been confronted with the same costly and hugely time-consuming legal issues that confront each and every cross-border estate, due largely to the different and often conflicting laws that can apply to the estate’s assets.

These additional burdens on a cross-border estate apply both at the planning stage and, in particular, after death, where expensive disputes over which country’s laws should apply to which assets are sadly commonplace.

For more than a decade, talk has rumbled on at the European Council about improving the status quo. Finally, in July 2012, the council passed new legislation colloquially known as Brussels IV, in the hope that this would be the panacea for Europe’s cross-border woes…

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