UK citizens who are living in the EU should make sure they update their will if they do not want their children automatically to inherit their home, specialist lawyers warn.

Under succession regulation rules that are in place across all the EU member states except Ireland and Denmark, a segment of a person’s property after they die is left to their children, who have the status of “protected heirs”.

Sarah Bogard, a solicitor specialising in French property law at law firm Furley Page, told The Times that many Britons living in Europe have neglected to add a clause in their will that states their wish to have it enforced in accordance with English common law rather than EU law.

“French law is based on civil law, and for successions the main principle is that children are protected heirs and shouldn’t be disinherited completely, so they will be entitled to a reserved portion of the estate,” Ms Bogard said.

“Many British couples who own a French property and who haven’t reviewed their wills after buying often find the property share will be inherited by the surviving spouse and the children, even if their will provides for the spouse to be the sole heir.”

The EU’s succession regulations were introduced in 2015. At the time the UK was one of the member states that decided not to opt into the law.