Which law applies?
Can I choose the law applicable to my succession?
Last update: 10/7/2012
The law applicable to the succession is in principle determined by the deceased’s nationality, for both real property and personal property. Swedish law does not provide for a choice as regards the applicable law.
Exception for citizens of Nordic countries
The applicability of the law of nationality is limited with regard to certain countries. For citizens of a country that is a member of the Nordic Convention on the law which applies to succession to the estates of deceased persons (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), it is not the nationality which determines the applicable law but, as a general rule, the country where the deceased person had his/her habitual residence at the time of his/her death.
Which criteria are used to determine the applicable law?
Where no international convention applies, the inheritance law is determined by virtue of chapter 1:1 of Act No. 1937:81 on international legal relations in inheritance matters (IDL), which stipulates that in principle it is tied to the nationality for real estate and personal property. If, at the time of his/her death, the deceased had several nationalities, including Swedish nationality, Swedish law is generally considered to take precedence. In other cases of multiple nationality, it is the actual nationality that takes precedence.
References to the first or second degree are not respected.
With regard to the deceased citizens of a country that is a member of the Nordic Convention on the law which applies to succession to the estates of deceased persons, it is in general the country where the deceased has his/her habitual residence that takes precedence. The heirs or the legatees may, however, demand, within the time allowed by the law, the application of the law of the country of which the deceased was a national, provided that the duration of his/her habitual residency in Sweden was less than 5 years at the time of death.
Which principles govern the choice of applicable law?
The deceased is not entitled to choose the applicable law. In addition, the verification of the inheritance must be carried out in accordance with Swedish law if a foreign deceased had his/her last domicile or last habitual residence in Sweden, or had property there. However, under the terms of chapter 2:1 IDL, the settlement of the matrimonial regime or the inheritance may, by mutual agreement, be executed in accordance with national law.
What are the main international agreements in force?
The Hague Convention on the Conflicts of Laws relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions of 5 October 1961
The Nordic Convention on the law applicable to the estates of deceased persons of 19 November 1934 (Acts 1935:44, 45, 46)
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Successions in Sweden
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