New rules on inheritance laws have come into effect in the European Union which basically allows people to choose which laws they want to apply to their wills. This might have an impact on Americans who own property in Europe.
Previously in the European Union, if a person wrote a will in one country and passed away in that country, then the law where the will was written would govern the distribution of property. New rules, now in effect, allow a person to choose in their wills to have the law of their country of nationality apply to their will.
Thus, for example, if a German is living in Italy, he or she can write a will to be used in Italy but that applies German law. This is not limited to nations in Europe. An American living in Europe could chose to apply US law. The Connexion reported on this new rule in "New EU inheritance rules now in force ."
This change could also impact Americans in another way.
Previously, if a US resident had property in a European Union country, then that property was dealt with under the laws of the European country. Now, it might be possible for the property to be handled under the laws of the person's state of residence. However, as with all rules and regulations, it remains to be seen how courts interpret and use this new rule.
Contact your estate planning attorney if you may be impacted by these developments.
Reference: The Connexion (August 17, 2015) "New EU inheritance rules now in force.”