England and Wales

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The UK and Ireland has not opted into (and Denmark has opted out of) the new European Union (EU) Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession concerning the proposed changes to international succession, which would see a basic rule that the law applicable to succession would be the law of the State of a deceased’s habitual residence at the time of their death. On 7 June 2012, the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted the Regulation on and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (known as Brussels IV). The aim of the Regulation is to achieve a greater legal certainty for those whose estates are connected with more than one jurisdiction. It is anticipated that the Regulation will come into effect on 16 August 2015 and will then be binding on all other EU member states.

The Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Act 2011 came into force on 1 February 2012 and protects the inheritance rights of descendants of people who have decided to disclaim their interest in an estate or who have forfeited their inheritance by killing the deceased.

The Law Commission has recommended reforms to legislation in the form of the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill, which, among other proposals, would simplify certain of the intestacy rules and give greater rights to a surviving spouse or civil partner where there are no descendants, and the Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill, which would give unmarried partners, who have been together for at least five years, or two years where the couple have a child living with them, the right to inherit following each other’s deaths the estate under the rules of intestacy.


A. Background

The United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland contains three major legal jurisdictions: England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. England and Wales form one jurisdiction; Wales has not had its own legal system distinct from England since medieval times.

Information about the laws of trusts and estates is found in the jurisdictional summaries of England & Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Legal system, taxation and other matters (anti-money laundering) relating to the UK are found in the UK summary.

The currency is the UK pound (GBP).

Editorial Board
Clare Archer TEP (lead editor)
Penningtons LLP, London, England
Christopher Cooke TEP
Rooks Rider Solicitors LLP, London, England
Simon Jennings TEP
Rawlinson & Hunter, London, England
Sue Moore TEP
Sue Moore Tax, Leicester, England
Leigh Sagar TEP
New Square Chambers, London, England


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