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Expat Q&A: Inheritance and matrimonial property rules in the EU

Inheritance and matrimonial  property rules in EU
17:23 19/12/2023
In collaboration with the Expat Welcome Desk (Commissioner’s Office)

Many European Union citizens live outside their home country, and more and more mixed couples of different European origins are being formed. These couples often have assets or bank accounts in several countries, and are consequently faced with legal uncertainty and substantial costs when they have to divide their assets in the event of divorce, separation or death.

It is difficult for them to know at present which courts are competent and which laws apply to their situation and assets in each EU country. The rules vary from one country to another and can sometimes be contradictory. To resolve this issue, the Notaries of Europe have created specific websites, presented here by the Expat Welcome Desk.

What information is posted on the “” website?

Available in 21 languages, the "" website provides an overview of marital property regimes and partnerships in force in the 27 EU Member States. It answers practical legal questions such as: What are the consequences of divorce or separation for matrimonial property? Which law applies to a couple's assets? What are the consequences of death with regard to the matrimonial property regime?

The content of the website is moreover updated regularly to stay abreast of developments in European and national legislation.

What information is posted on the ‘’” website?

The rules governing inheritance are highly complex and vary from one Member State to another. This can lead to a great deal of legal uncertainty, which is often not appreciated by heirs who face legal and administrative complications when they inherit property located in another Member State, but also by those who want to organise their succession during their lifetime.

The "" website contains a database on inheritance law in 22 Member States. It is an ideal tool to consult before seeing your notary. The content is also updated regularly.

Where can I find a notary who speaks my language?

Do not hesitate to consult a notary for your questions about inheritance procedures, drawing up a will or a matrimonial property regime, buying a property, etc.

You can find the contact details of a notary throughout the European Union who speaks your language in the European Directory of Notaries, e.g. a notary in Prague who speaks French and can help you with local procedures (buying a property, settling an inheritance, etc.).

For more information: Council of Notaries of Europe (CNUE) 

The Expat Welcome Desk is a free service that advises internationals on the practicalities of daily life in the Belgian capital, from accommodation and residence permits to employment rights and taxation, among a number of topics.

Written by The Expat Welcome Desk in collaboration with The Bulletin