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Forced Heirship in Cyprus, Brussels IV, and Brexit: A Comprehensive Overview

When someone passes away in Cyprus, the principles of forced heirship come into play. Essentially, forced heirship is a legal framework ensuring that specific family members inherit a portion of an individual's estate, regardless of what the deceased's Will might stipulate. In Cyprus, as in many countries with such regimes, the intent is to protect certain family members, typically close relatives like children or spouses, by guaranteeing them a rightful share of the inheritance.

Harmonising Succession Rules Across Europe

However, the landscape of inheritance law took an intriguing turn with the introduction of Brussels IV (EU Regulation 650/2012), a regulation designed to simplify and harmonise succession rules within the European Union. Under Brussels IV, individuals gained the autonomy to choose the inheritance laws of their nationality rather than being bound by the default rules of their country of residence. For instance, a French national residing in Cyprus could elect to have their estate governed by French inheritance laws rather than the Cypriot forced heirship rules.

Impact of Brexit on the Use of Brussels IV

This flexibility provided by Brussels IV became particularly significant for those seeking to navigate around forced heirship provisions. Certain jurisdictions, like the UK, have inheritance laws that might offer more lenient or favourable conditions compared to the stricter forced heirship rules of countries like Cyprus. As a result, individuals could strategically opt for the inheritance laws of their nationality to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes, rather than being mandated by Cypriot regulations.

Now, with the context of Brexit, one might naturally wonder about the implications of the UK's departure from the European Union on Brussels IV's application. Brexit has not disrupted the utility of Brussels IV concerning inheritance matters. Even though the UK is no longer an EU member, the agreement surrounding Brussels IV encompasses a broader scope beyond just EU nations.

Eu and UK flags

The significance of Brussels IV extends to a multitude of European countries, both within and outside the EU. Countries like Norway, Switzerland, and indeed, the UK, have recognised the benefits of this regulation and have chosen to participate, ensuring continuity and coherence in cross-border inheritance matters. Therefore, individuals, whether they reside in Cyprus, the UK, or any other participating jurisdiction, can still leverage the provisions of Brussels IV to opt for their national inheritance laws, irrespective of Brexit.

In conclusion, Cyprus's forced heirship regime represents a traditional approach to inheritance, emphasising familial protection through predetermined distribution rules. However, the introduction of Brussels IV ushered in a new era of flexibility and choice, enabling individuals to sidestep such regimes by opting for their national inheritance laws. Despite the seismic shift of Brexit, the foundational principles of Brussels IV remain intact, facilitating cross-border succession planning and ensuring that individuals can still make informed choices aligned with their wishes and best interests within the confines of any relevant legislation of their nationality.


If you require any further details, consult with a qualified will writer at Maplebrook Services Ltd today by contacting the office on +357 26600780 or by emailing

Please also note that our next free Life Admin Clinic will be on Wednesday 28 February 2024 from 10am – 4pm.


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