If you are Scottish and you own a holiday home in the EU, you should take specialist advice on your will.

Scots law determines to whom that house passes on your death. Scots law then, in turn, applies the law of the country in which the home is located.

Many EU countries have rules which, for example, prevent you leaving the whole of that property to your spouse.

The EU has a regulation which says that if a home is in the EU then the law of the owner's habitual residence, or the law of their nationality if that is elected by the owner in their will, decides.

Scots law can therefore apply, and that law does not have any rules about to whom homes can be left, and you can leave them to whomever you like.

A Scottish will is needed for Scottish clients, but in addition some EU states prefer to also see a will written there to cover assets in that country for ease of administration there after a death.

If you have a holiday home in Europe (or elsewhere outside Scotland) you should take advice on what the position would be on your death and have your will drafted accordingly.

UK tax

Personal taxation in the UK is linked to where a person lives and works. Brexit will affect individuals' rights to move permanently to the UK. A decision to move can affect a person's domicile status and in turn their personal taxation. If you become UK domiciled then your worldwide income, worldwide gains and your worldwide estate on death would be subject to the UK tax net. You should also consider what implications there may be in your country of origin and the taxes applied there if you become UK domiciled.

Relief from UK inheritance tax on the value of agricultural property currently extends to properties situated in the EEA. Hold over relief from capital gains tax is also allowed on agricultural property in the EEA. This was to secure compatibility with EU rules on free movement. The extension of these reliefs may change after Brexit and affect your plans for succession to that property.

UK tax reliefs on a gift to charity in lifetime or on death can extend to charities situated in the EEA. Again, this was to secure compatibility with EU rules on free movement. If you are minded to make a gift then you should do so now while the relief is secure.

If you are a citizen of the EEA but not a UK resident and receive UK income then you currently have a UK income tax personal allowance. Again, it is there to secure compatibility with EU rules on free movement and may change.

Family trusts

Trusts are invaluable vehicles for passing wealth on to the family. The assets held in a family trust do not belong to any family member and therefore are protected from claims by their spouses, partners, and creditors. Trusts do not have to publish annual returns which are publicly available, as companies do.

There have been changes made by EU cooperation on tax transparency. This means that trusts now have to register with HMRC the personal details of the person who funded the trust, the trustees and beneficiaries. The range of trusts which require to register with HMRC is to be further expanded in 2022. Trusts also have to declare to HMRC annually the details of any person connected with the trust who has a non-UK connection. This information is not available to the public. These obligations to report to HMRC, coupled with rules on data protection, mean that a beneficiary of a trust has to provide the information required by the tax authorities.

Although tax transparency is the result of EU cooperation, the UK has been in favour of this so it is not going to disappear after Brexit.

Trusts still remain a preferred vehicle for many families in passing on and holding wealth.


Brexit brings scope for changes that may impact individuals and their personal taxation and succession. Considered advice will be required. If you have any questions, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact, or one of the individuals below.


Leigh Gould