The (accidental?) Imposition of Forced Inheritance.

Legal questions answered by Cyprus property lawyer Louise Zambartas

Moderator: louisez

Post Reply
The Bear
Posts: 10
Joined: 09 Jan 2016 20:09

The (accidental?) Imposition of Forced Inheritance.

Post by The Bear » 06 Mar 2019 12:44

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in place it seems to me that UK nationals cease to be EU citizens with immediate effect.

This would surely take them outside the scope of EU Regulation 650/2012 which allows for EU citizens to specify in their Will that the law of their domicile of origin shall apply. If such clauses become ineffective for UK-domiciled testators then the Cyprus forced-inheritance rules would presumably apply as the older provision for UK & Commonwealth citizens ceased to be valid in July 2015 so isn't available as a fall-back.

Perhaps this topic might be covered in some way under the provisions of a Withdrawal Agreement and clear guidance could eventually emerge from that process but it could well be that it is determined that UK citizens are not to be considered as EU citizens for any purpose, the matter isn't one requiring amendment of the Regulation to make specific provision for UK nationals and that individual countries can/can't add their own provisions for UK nationals if they wish. The fact that the UK opted-out of the Regulation (presumably because of the common law rather than civil law basis of its inheritance rules) may colour the attitude of some states.

However, a no-deal Brexit looks to me as if it imposes forced-inheritance with immediate effect. I've little confidence that the Cyprus government can satisfactorily address this matter with sufficient speed to ensure that any retrospective legislation they may eventually implement will avoid complications and problems that could arise very swiftly from deaths immediately after a no-deal Brexit.

Have any clues been observed anywhere as to whether this is on anyone's radar? Has it, perhaps, seen a mention within specialist legal journals?



Nigel Howarth
Site Admin
Posts: 2433
Joined: 24 Oct 2007 14:38
Location: Erimi, Limassol, Cyprus
Contact:

Re: The (accidental?) Imposition of Forced Inheritance.

Post by Nigel Howarth » 06 Mar 2019 19:16

Hi The Bear

I published an article about changes to inheritance law in 2015 - Inheritance in the EU.

"Under the new rules, the courts of the EU country where the person usually lived at the time of their death will deal with the inheritance and will apply the law of that EU country. However, citizens can choose the law of their country of nationality to apply to their estate, whether it is an EU or a non-EU country."

It appears that the Wills of British citizens should be OK when the UK leaves the EU deal or no deal.

You can also find the EC document online at INHERITANCE IN THE EU Cross-border successions made simpler.

You can send your question to the BHC at UKinCyprus@fco.gov.uk. (I also have a meeting with the British High Commissioner on 13th March.)

Regards,


Nigel Howarth
Independent information & advice for Cyprus property buyers
Contact Nigel Howarth
Read the latest Cyprus property news

The Bear
Posts: 10
Joined: 09 Jan 2016 20:09

Re: The (accidental?) Imposition of Forced Inheritance.

Post by The Bear » 07 Mar 2019 02:07

Nigel Howarth wrote:
06 Mar 2019 19:16
"Under the new rules, the courts of the EU country where the person usually lived at the time of their death will deal with the inheritance and will apply the law of that EU country. However, citizens can choose the law of their country of nationality to apply to their estate, whether it is an EU or a non-EU country."

It appears that the Wills of British citizens should be OK when the UK leaves the EU deal or no deal.
Thanks for the response, Nigel. No need to be so formal, you can just call me Bear. :^)

I had already read your article and the item elsewhere which it referenced and have now read the leaflet to which you linked and have eventually resorted to ploughing through the Regulation itself:
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content ... 32012R0650

I posted because I hadn't reached the same conclusion as you. My concern was that the Regulation applies only to Wills of "citizens" and everything about the context suggests that it's talking about EU citizens when, surely, UK citizens cease to be EU citizens when the UK leaves the EU - and that was the issue which concerned me.

My understanding was that the bit about it applying even if their domicile of origin is not an EU member state meant that somebody who, say, has become a citizen of the EU by acquiring citizenship of an EU member state could opt to have their estate covered by their Cyprus Will handled not under Cyprus law but in accordance with either the member state of which they were a citizen or the law of whichever country was their original domicile in law (even if a 'third state') . It seems that some reporting used proxy terminology that isn't actually found in the Regulation in the same context.

Although the informal documents and the Regulation itself refer to 'citizens' a few times, I now see that Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 1 (p10 of the pdf) states that it applies to the estates of deceased persons in general (and not only EU citizens) so I now agree with you (with some careful study still required to resolve some lingering doubts regarding edge cases concerning jurisdiction in some circumstances when someone ceases to have 'habitual residence' in Cyprus).

Regards



Post Reply