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An international succession is the succession  with a foreign element that may arise from the nationality of the deceased, his residence, or the presence of properties abroad..

It is a complex legal event that often requires the intervention of a lawyer specializing in International Inheritance Law. HARROP LAWYERS has developed through the years the experience in order to assist their clients through this complicated process. 

Applicable law in case of international succession

It is necessary to determine the law applicable to an international succession whether assets or the deceased are located abroad.

The UE regulation n°650/2012 has provided further security in choosing the law applicable to your inheritance. 

Once we have identified that we are dealing with an international inheritance, we need to address the differences between the inheritance issue and the tax issue. 

Each international inheritance case will require to analyze the implication of the tax treaties existing between each country. 

In the absence of such an agreement, the provisions of article 750 ter of the General Tax Code will apply.

In civil matters, the date of death is fundamental. Inheritances opened before August 17, 2015 must be settled in accordance with the principle of division according to which a distinction should be made according to the movable or immovable nature of the inheritance assets.

In this case, while movable inheritances are subject to the law of the last domicile of the deceased, the fate of real estate is governed by the law of their place of location. The application of such a rule often led to a fragmentation of the succession which required to apply several succession laws in the same file.

To overcome these practical difficulties, the settlement of successions opened on or after August 17, 2015 is now guided by European Regulation No. 650-2012 of the European Parliament and of the European Council of July 4, 2012 relating to jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and the acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession, and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. It is important to emphasize that said Regulation does not apply to tax, customs and administrative matters, and that its applicability must always be verified in consideration of its material, spatial and temporal scope of application.

The Regulation goes beyond the borders of the European Union, and the law it designates will apply even if it is not that of a member state. 

Article 21 §1 states that”unless otherwise provided in these regulations, the law applicable to the whole of a succession is that of the state in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of his death.”

However French legislation has recently modified the French civil code in order to deal with the consequences of the EU Regulation which could prevent a beneficiary to inherit his share. 

Law No. 2021-1109 of August 24, 2021  was issued in order to protect the rights of a minimum inheritance to benefit the children for whom the provisions of the foreign law applicable to the succession do not guarantee no protective reservation mechanism. 

Article 913 of the Civil Code now provides in its third paragraph that “When the deceased or at least one of his children is, at the time of death, a national of a member state of the European Union or usually resides there and when the foreign law applicable to the succession does not allow any protective mechanism for children, each child or his heirs or assigns may make a compensatory levy on the property existing in France on the day of death, so as to be reinstated in the reserved rights granted to them by French law, within the limits thereof. »

Article 921 paragraph 2 of the Civil Code has been modified to add the following wording “When the notary finds, during the settlement of the succession, that the reserved rights of an heir are likely to be affected by the gifts made by the deceased, he informs each heir concerned and known, individually and, where appropriate , before any sharing, of his right to request the reduction of gifts that exceed the available quota  .

A Will 

A will is in principle valid if it complies with the law of the State where it was drawn up. A probate issued by the local court will have to be issued. 

International taxation

The principle is that the State where the deceased had his domicile taxes the assets of the world heritage of the deceased on the day of his death.

more info on international taxation?

The whole issue of an international succession is to know which law will apply in order to better anticipate his succession and, if necessary, settle it.

The advice of a lawyer specializing in International Inheritance Law is therefore necessary to advise you as best as possible.

The law applicable to an international succession

A European regulation that entered into force on August 17, 2015 provides that the law that applies in matters of international succession is that of the last residence of the deceased.

Once the heirs have been determined, they will collect all the property of the deceased, regardless of the location of this property.

Place of last residence may be uncertain. Thus, the future deceased can choose by will that his succession obeys his national law rather than the law of his residence. Indeed, this ensures stability since the change of residence will not call it into question.


With each change of residence, the local inheritance rules will change, which can cause uncertainty as well as legal insecurity.

In the worst case, discrepancies between contradictory national laws may appear, leading to different resolutions. Indeed, the national consequences (of goods located in the country) could be disputed in a local court and ultimately be decided in opposition to another national law.

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