Making a Will with an overseas property

Making a Will with an overseas property

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It is getting more common now to own a property overseas. If you make a Will in England and Wales and have overseas property, then just putting the property in your English Will may not be enough.

Moveable and Immovable assets

Your assets typically fall into two categories, movable and immovable. Moveable assets can be physically moved, such as bank accounts, investments and personal belongings. Immovable assets are things that cannot be moved such as real estate and land.

 An English Will covers all movable assets in the UK or abroad but only covers immovable assets here but not overseas.

Different laws with overseas properties

If you have included your overseas property in your English Will, your wishes may not be followed. Your property will legally be subject to the inheritance law of the country they are situated in.

In many countries, there are laws that dictate who you can leave your assets to and who you cannot exclude. These laws are called ‘forced heirship’ rules.

 For example, in Spain, France or Italy you are unable to disinherit your children so if you have specified in your Will that your property should pass to a friend instead of your children it contravenes the law of the country where the property is situated, this can cause many complex issues for the executor.

Delays in administrating the estate with an overseas property

When only a single Will is in place and overseas assets are included there are often delays administrating the estate. The English Will still needs to go through the probate process. Once the grant of probate is received then it can be presented in the foreign country, it will need to be translated and notarised before it can be accepted. Also, the treatment of assets can be different and that can cause delays as what is specified in a Will created in England and Wales may not be legally accepted in other countries.  

Do I create more than one Will if I have an overseas property

The best way to ensure your wishes are met and your Will is legally accepted in relation to your overseas property is to create another Will where your property is situated. It is best to consult a legal professional to ensure you have a clear understanding of what will happen to your assets. Failure to do so risks leaving the executors and beneficiaries facing complicated probate rules and foreign legislation that can cause disputes and delays.

Does having more than one Will cause a problem

The risk with multiple wills is that one can supersede the other if they are created at different times. Often in a Will created here there is a clause that revokes all previous Wills, this could be problematic. It is crucial when writing multiple Wills you make the legal professional aware you have another Will. They can include an appropriate revocation clause that only revokes the Will for that jurisdiction.

Taxation with overseas property

When it comes to inheritance tax, then your overseas assets can be included. There may be a tax treaty in place, but it is essential to check this and take financial advice when making your Will.

For further advice in creating your Will and dealing with overseas assets, contact us at Sovereign Planning.

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