Writing a Will is the best way to decide exactly what will happen to your assets after you die. It’s important though to remember that you can determine what happens not just with your assets in the UK, but international assets too.
It’s no longer particularly unusual for people to own assets in more than one country. For example, around 200,000 Brits own property in France alone. Accounting for these international assets properly when writing a Will is incredibly important, but the process can be rather complicated.
There are cross-border inheritance and tax issues to consider. Britain is unusual in that you can decide exactly who inherits your property, but in certain European nations there are more restrictive ‘forced heirship’ rules which dictate precisely who can inherit. Until a couple of years ago, these rules applied to Brits who own property in these nations, though these restrictions have since been loosened.
It may be that you need to have separate Wills in each country in which you own assets, as well as a main Will in the country in which you live, in order to control what happens after you die.
In most countries, probate is required before any foreign assets can be sold or transferred. This process can be complicated, yet it is still preferable to dying without a Will in place, in which case your loved ones will have to deal with foreign intestacy. This can be enormously expensive, stressful and time consuming.
The world is getting smaller
Jim Emsley from E.L.M Legal Services said: “The world is getting smaller all the time, so increasing numbers of us own assets in other nations – whether that’s property or investments. That makes it even more important that you write comprehensive Wills in each nation, setting out precisely what you want to happen with your assets.
“No-one wants to think about what happens after they die, but failing to leave a Will could leave your loved ones with enormous stress, particularly if they are having to deal with foreign assets as well as domestic ones.
“Talking to a professional Will writer is strongly advised so you ensure all your assets are going to the right places. You are welcome to call us at ELM Legal Services on 0800 019 4557 and we’ll be happy to talk you through things.”