Brussels IV Regulation on Successions

Brussels IV Regulation on Successions

What about your succession? Did you know Brussels IV Regulation is coming into force?

This article discusses the key points of the Regulation (EU) 650/2012 known as Brussels IV.


In the past, E.U. rules did not regulate any aspects of successions. However, that is about to change.

After many years in gestation, the EU Succession Regulation (No 650/12), an attempt to standardize succession laws, will come into force from 17 August 2015 onwards in all E.U. Member States, with the exception of the UK*, Ireland* and Denmark.

*The UK and Ireland still have the option to opt in in the future. The UK opted out because of its objections to the rules of other Member States in relation to lifetime gifts.

Because a substantial part of the EU, Portugal included, did not opt out and the relevant regulation comes into force in August, the new rules will cover 430 million citizens.

This matter is of great concern to lawyers, bankers and other practitioners who have to advise international clients.

So, are your testamentary arrangements are in need of careful review?


The Regulation applies to the succession of persons who die on or after 17\P August 2015.


Brussels IV’s provisions apply to testate and intestate successions alike, but do not govern taxation and other civil law areas such as matrimonial property regimes, trusts or inter vivos gifts.


Brussels IV is a regulation is will be enforceable directly in all EU Members States with no vote by national parliaments.

Cross border succession is rarely straightforward. It triggers conflicts between private international law and domestic succession laws. Currently, being involved in a cross-border estate can be a complex and frustrating process, because different rules apply to different assets.

Please note that in most continental European Civil Law countries the way a deceased individual’s estate is passed on is regulated in detail and subject to mandatory allocation of assets, differing from England where, subject to limited statutory control, an individual is free to dispose of his assets in any way he/she deems fit.

August 17 henceforth, courts of the Member State in which the deceased had his/her habitual residence at the time of death shall have jurisdiction to rule on the whole succession. Also, the provisions governing succession will be those in force in the jurisdiction of habitual residence.

Nevertheless, if the deceased was “manifestly more closely connected” with another State, the law of that other State oversees succession. Furthermore, the deceased may choose (expressly in a will or similar document) the law of his/her nationality to apply in relation to all assets across the Brussels IV zone.

What to look for?

If you are:

  • Living in;
  • Owning property in; or
  • Moving to a Brussels IV State;

You should seek advice on how Brussels IV may influence your succession planning.

We are at your disposal at

Recent Posts