The concept of ‘domicile’ in English law

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Under English law, all individuals have what is called a ‘domicile’, and not more than one domicile, at any one time. A person’s domicile will usually be in the country or state where he or she is most closely connected, and this is generally, but not always, where the individual has his or her permanent home.

Domicile is of fundamental importance in estate planning as it affects both inheritance tax and the law governing succession to property following death. Establishing a person’s domicile is a question of fact and individual cases need to be considered very carefully.

An individual acquires a ‘domicile of origin’ at birth. Usually, this will be his or her father’s domicile if the parents were married and his or her mother’s domicile if they were unmarried. However, if the child’s parents live apart, he or she will acquire the mother’s domicile if he or she is living with her and he or she has no home with the father. If the child’s parent changes his or her own domicile while the child is under 16 years of age, the child’s domicile will follow that of his or her parent and he or she will acquire a ‘domicile of dependence’…

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