Fredrik Lager, General Manager of SEB Private Banking in Asia, wants Scandinavian residents in Asia to be aware of a new EU regulation, which took effect on 17 August 2015. The regulation is intended to make it easier for EU citizens to handle the legal side of an international will or succession.
Once this new regulation is in place, the rules regarding inheritance and succession will be governed by the laws of the country of residence.
“From a Swedish point of view this is very significant, because under Swedish law, for example, you are not allowed to disinherit your children,” explains Fredrik Lager, himself a lawyer by profession.
“In the Nordic countries, children have a statutory right to inherit, but under Thai and Singapore law for instance, and generally in countries which build on an Anglo-Saxon system of law, you can do pretty much what you want with your assets when you die.”
However, you can explicitly state in your will if the law applicable to your succession should be that of your nationality instead of the default option, which will be the country of residence.
“You can write: ‘My estate should be governed by Swedish law’. If you don’t write anything it will be Singapore law that applies, if you are deemed to live there at the time of death.”
“I advise all clients to write a will and in most cases I suggest that they explicitly state that the law of their country of citizenship should apply to the estate, because then we’re back to where we were before! If, however, you want to apply local law to your inheritance, then this will be a possibility going forward.”
“Some lawyers, primarily in Sweden, have said: “this is a bombshell, this is huge!” Yet not many people know or talk about it.”
SEB Private Banking calls for the Swedish Embassies to spread the news on this highly relevant new regulation which will apply not only to Swedish EU residents but also to Swedes wherever in the world they may live. It should be noted that Denmark, the UK and Ireland have all decided not adopt this new regulation.
Read also: SEB’s “Asia Growth Case”