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EU Succession Regulation: Estate Planning Risks and Opportunities for U.S. Taxpayers Owning EU-Sitused Assets

Brussels IV Habitual Residence Standard; Structuring Estate Documents to Incorporate Choice of Law Election

Recording of a 90-minute CLE/CPE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE/CPE course will provide estate planning counsel with a thorough and practical guide to the implications of the European Union’s (EU) Succession Regulation (Brussels IV) on U.S. taxpayers owning assets in EU member states. The panel will discuss the default “law of habitual residence” and detail the opportunities—and risks—of the “choice of law” provisions in the Succession Regulation. The webinar will also offer concrete suggestions on structuring estate documents to avail clients of the choice of law option.


The recent EU Succession Regulation, also known as Brussels IV, creates significant opportunities, as well as risk and confusion, for estate planners and advisers serving U.S. taxpayers owning assets located in EU countries. The impact of the Regulation continues to present serious challenges even to seasoned estate planning professionals.

The principal feature of the Regulation is to eliminate multiple nations’ succession rules by providing a framework for the application of a single uniform law governing estate succession for EU member nations. Brussels IV provides that for decedents owning property in multiple jurisdictions, the governing law covering the succession of the decedent’s entire estate will be that of the nation which served as the decedent’s “habitual residence at the time of death.”

The most crucial element of the Regulation, however, is that it allows individuals to elect a different governing law than the one of the “last habitual residence” to govern the individual’s entire estate succession. So an American expatriate living in, for example, Germany at the time of death may elect in the estate documents to apply American law to the estate’s disposition. This choice of law option creates both risk and opportunities, and estate planners must have a thorough understanding of the Regulation’s terms and requirements for structuring estate plans to leverage potentially favorable or familiar treatment.

Listen as our experienced panel provides a timely and practical guide to the EU Succession Regulation and how to incorporate its provisions into an estate plan.



  1. Prior framework
  2. Terms of Brussels IV Succession Regulation
  3. Factors determining “habitual residence at the time of death” for purposes of applying the Succession Rule
  4. Choice of law election and determining when available and appropriate
  5. Structuring estate documents to make an election under EU Succession Regulation


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • Where is the EU Succession Regulation in effect, and which EU countries have not signed on to the new structure?
  • Factors determining what constitutes a decedent’s “last habitual residence at the time of death” for purposes of applying the default succession law
  • How the choice of law provision operates under Brussels IV, and what factors must be present for an individual to elect to apply a different law than the “last habitual residence” jurisdiction
  • Structuring considerations in estate plans for specifying the governing law under the choice of law provisions in Brussels IV


Brittain, Cindy
Cindy D. Brittain

Katten Muchin Rosenman

Ms. Brittain is a partner in the firm's Trusts and Estates practice, focusing on domestic and international estate...  |  Read More

Guichard, Anne
Anne Guichard
Legal Specialist
De Buhren Montes Bigot Guichard Lucas Maudet

Ms. Guichard is a legal specialist who advises and helps clients in all the stages of life: marriage, divorce, wills,...  |  Read More

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