With every new client meeting there’s a moment of wishful thinking.
The question, “Do you have any property outside of England and Wales?” is often met with a response of “I wish!” but more often, it seems, with a positive statement that leads to a discussion about overseas assets.
If you have assets in other countries or may inherit overseas assets in the future, there are common principles that hold true, regardless of where your assets or future assets are located. Best practice is always to consider making a Will in each jurisdiction that you hold assets. Carisma Wills’ jurisdiction is England & Wales. This means if you have property in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Cyprus or Mauritius (more wishful thinking!) you may need a separate Will there.
Some jurisdictions may advise that a second Will is not required. Some jurisdictions will advise that even if you put a Will in place, the inheritance laws of that country prevail regardless of your wishes; this happens in countries where forced heirship rules apply.
If you have assets in Europe and you would like these to pass as stated in your English/Welsh Will, you can elect for this to happen. This doesn’t mean that it’s not worth considering a second Will (in Spain, for example) to enable the process in that jurisdiction to be started after you die, at the same time as the English/Welsh Probate process; it simply means the same distribution of your assets can apply to your second home and local bank accounts.
You must disclose any other testamentary dispositions (Wills or other documents dealing with assets when you’re gone) to the firm drafting your new documents. This will avoid the inadvertent revocation (cancellation) of any of your existing, overseas Wills. The same applies if you are making a Will overseas. Be sure to ask the adviser not to revoke your existing English/Welsh Will.
Most estate planners will tell clients it’s best practice to seek advice in each jurisdiction where they own assets but sometimes families prefer not to do this because of language barriers, lack of knowledge or trust, or as in 2020 and 2021 because they can’t travel to make these arrangements. In such cases, the solution is to draft a Will that expresses an intention to deal with all worldwide assets.
If your family circumstances or asset portfolio changes, a review of your Will is essential. We’ve listed the major life events as a prompt on the reverse of the Will review e-postcard we send to our clients.
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