In an increasingly globalised world, more and more of us have ties to other places than just the UK. It’s so much easier to own property abroad, for example. We have friends, spouses, and partners who may be from other countries, or we move overseas and build a new life somewhere else. How does that affect wills, though, and how can you be sure that any assets you may have abroad are included in yours and administered as part of your estate when you pass? There are a few things you may need to consider if you are in that situation, as it is not always straightforward, and this month we set out what these are.
Country of residence
For the purposes of this month’s article we are assuming that you are domiciled in the UK. That means that you are resident in the UK and not overseas. Each nation within the UK will have specific legislation that applies, and this may be different between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Assuming, therefore, that you reside in England, English law will apply.
Preparing a will
When you prepare a will you include all your assets, and these will include those that you have overseas. At the time of your death, that will covers all your assets – both moveable (such as pensions, bank accounts and investments) and immoveable (such as property or real estate).
Validity of a will overseas
While your will includes and recognises your worldwide assets, the country in which your assets are located may not recognise the validity of your will. Even if it does, it may still require local laws to be applied. This means that any assets you may have abroad may have to comply with local inheritance taxes and regulations. For example, a holiday home may be passed down to your children rather than to a spouse, or vice versa, contrary to the wishes stated in your will. You may also be taxed twice – once in the UK and once in the country in which you have assets.
How to deal with this
There are ways to overcome these issues to ensure that your wishes are carried out in accordance with your will and that your beneficiaries will not be left out of pocket unexpectedly.
Preparing a will in both the UK and overseas will make sure that you are complying with all legal requirements and should also enable you to minimise inheritance tax. In fact, identifying an executor in-country is also ideal as they will be able to better navigate their way around the system and its requirements than someone from the UK with little or no experience of doing so. A professional executor or solicitor are suitable persons for this task.
If you are preparing two wills, then be sure to get both solicitors or legal advisers to talk to each other. This will ensure that the wills are consistent and that nothing has slipped through the net.
For advice on dealing with assets both in the UK and abroad talk to our experienced team at Probate London. We regularly work with clients with international assets and can help you too. Call us on 020 8017 1029 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help.