What factors cause succession laws to apply on the death of an individual?

Private Client

India Small Flag India

As noted above, succession matters in India are governed by the faith followed by the individual. Another factor that is considered is the domicile of the deceased individual and the type of property he holds at the time of his demise. The laws of India govern succession of an immovable property if the property is situated in India whereas succession of movable property is governed by the law of the country in which the deceased was domiciled at the time of his demise.

Bulgaria Small Flag Bulgaria

Succession is opened on death, at the last place of residence of the deceased. Please also refer to the answer to question 15 below.

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

In accordance with Irish private international law rules concerning succession law, the devolution of the estate of a deceased person, including the question of forced heirship, is determined as to immovables by the law of the situs of the immovables, and as to movables, by the law of the domicile of the deceased person.

United States Small Flag United States

Two main factors will determine which state’s succession or intestacy laws control the disposition of a decedent’s estate: (1) the property classification, or type, of each item of property, and (2) the state of a person’s domicile at the time of death.

There are generally three types of property: (1) real estate; (2) intangible personal property (such as cash and stock); and (3) tangible personal property.

Domicile is the geographic location of a person’s permanent legal residence. A person’s domicile is the place he or she intends to use as his or her dwelling for an indefinite period of time. It is the place to which the person intends to return. A person’s intention regarding domicile is determined by his or her actions, such as where the person votes and where he or she pays state income taxes. An individual can only have one domicile.

The law of a person’s domicile generally determines the disposition of intangible and tangible personal property, even if it is located in different states. The disposition of real estate, however, is controlled by the state in which it is located. Accordingly, ancillary probate or administration will be required if a decedent dies owning real property outside of his or her state of domicile.

France Small Flag France

Since August 2015, under the EU Succession Regulation, the law applicable to the succession, including immovable and movable assets, is the law of the country in which the deceased has his habitual residence at the time of death. This rule applies whether or not the deceased is a member of the EU.

The EU Succession Regulation 650/2012 allows, however, a person to choose the law of country whose nationality he/she possesses at the time of making the choice, or at the time of death, as the law to govern his/her succession. A person with several nationalities can choose the law of any of the countries whose nationality he/she possesses. As a consequence, when a person who is not French national dies having his/her last habitual residence in France, the French “notaire” should check the choice made during his/her life. If no choice has been made, the French “notaire” should apply the French law of succession. If a choice has been made, the French “notaire” should apply the law of succession chosen by the deceased.

Italy Small Flag Italy

Conflicts of law rules are regulated by the EU Regulation No. 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 (the EU Succession Regulation). Habitual residence in Italy would generally lead to the application of Italian succession law. If the habitual residence of the individual is located outside of Italy, Italian succession law may still be applicable due to a renvoi to Italian succession law (see 14). In both cases, the possibility to elect for a foreign law of nationality is granted.

Israel Small Flag Israel

The Succession Law provides that the law applying to an estate is the law of the place of residence of the deceased at the time of death.

Greece Small Flag Greece

The succession law of the deceased’s nationality is applicable upon death, regardless of the assets’ location.

Germany Small Flag Germany

According to the EU Succession Regulation the inheritance law applicable to an individual’s succession is determined by his last habitual residence if (1.) the deceased is not manifestly more closely connected to another jurisdiction and (2.) if he has not opted for the succession law of his citizenship.

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

According to the European Succession Regulation 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 by which Belgium is bound, the law applicable to the succession as a whole shall be the law of the state in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of his death. A person may choose as the law to govern his succession as a whole the law of the state whose nationality he possesses at the time of making the choice or at the time of death.

British Virgin Islands Small Flag British Virgin Islands

See the answer to question 12 above.

For these purposes shares in BVI companies will be regarded as BVI-situs property as a consequence of section 245 of the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 (as will absolute beneficial interests in such shares). Subject to that, the extent of which property will be regarded as ‘movable’ or ‘immovable’ will be determined by applying very similar principles to those which apply by virtue of English common law.

A person’s ‘domicile’ as a matter of BVI law will, be determined by applying the relevant principles of English common law.

If an issue of succession is referred to the laws of another jurisdiction the doctrine of renvoi would be applicable to the same extent to which it would were the referral to be one made by English law.

UAE Small Flag UAE

Shari’a law will apply to all Muslims. Non-Muslim expatriates, or other foreign owners of assets in Dubai, may make a Will to ensure that their assets pass other than in accordance with Shari’a law. The local courts in theory will accept the validity of a foreign Will following the implementation of the new Law No. 15 of 2017, however to ensure that a Will will be recognised in Dubai, it is thought to be better practice to register a Will with the Dubai International Financial Centre Wills and Probate Registry (DIFC WPR).

New Zealand Small Flag New Zealand

New Zealand’s succession laws apply to a person who has property located in New Zealand or is living in New Zealand and has property located in New Zealand.

Monaco Small Flag Monaco

Under Monaco law, the place of the opening of the succession is the domicile of the deceased. Monegasque courts have jurisdiction to rule on successions opened on the territory of Monaco or when an immoveable asset belonging to the estate is located in Monaco.

The estate of a foreigner resident in Monaco is subject to Monaco private international law rules.

Monegasque law will apply to the estate of an individual domiciled in Monaco at the time of his/her death, unless the deceased has expressly elected his/her national law to govern the entirety of his/her estate.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

In principle, if the deceased person was resident in Switzerland at the time of her/his death, her or his estate is subject to Swiss law. The deceased's domicile is the place in which she or he resided with the intention of living there permanently and where the deceased's personal centre of vital interests was situated.

Swiss law may be applicable even where the deceased has made a foreign will before taking up residence in Switzerland. As an exception, foreign nationals who do not have Swiss nationality may opt (by will or testamentary contract) to have their estate governed by the law of one of the countries of nationality (professo iuris).

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

14.1 The application of English succession laws depends on the deceased's last domicile (§1.9) and on the location of any immovable property (i.e. real property).

14.2 Succession to movable property (e.g. cash, shares, chattels) is, as a matter of English law, governed by the laws of the deceased's last domicile (§1.9).

14.3 Succession to immovable property is, as a matter of English law, governed by the laws of the jurisdiction in which that property is located. Therefore, according to English law, succession to land owned in France is governed by the succession laws of France.

14.4 The above position may be altered in accordance with the private international laws of any non-English jurisdiction to which English law refers the succession, including the provisions of the European Succession Regulation (§15.2) where they apply.

Austria Small Flag Austria

Relevant factor of the succession law of the jurisdiction is the testator’s citizenship and habitual residence.

Given the Austrian citizenship and a habitual residence in Austria then Austrian succession law would apply.

In case of an Austrian citizenship but habitual residence abroad the succession law of the habitual residence country would apply (applicable for all EU member states except Denmark, UK and Ireland). If a testator will prevent this effect, he/she has to state expressively the applicability of Austrian law.

Austrian jurisdiction applies to the movable and immovable property located in Austria but does not apply to immovable property located abroad. In case a testator without Austrian citizenship and without habitual residence in Austria owns immovable property in Austria a succession procedure (following the applicable law) would take place in Austria dealing only with an immovable property.

Updated: October 25, 2018