Make a Separate Will for a Separate Country

In my recent email newsletter to my clients and contacts I made the point that it is wise for any person who has assets, whether money or land, invested in more than one country to make a separate Will for each jurisdiction.

I received a response from a client asking me why this is recommended, and her request concentrated my mind as to what reasons I should give.

My eventual reply was :-

Separate wills for separate countries help to make it as fast as possible for the Probate to be granted and dealt with. It means that both jurisdictions can be proceeding at the same time. If there is only one will, being dealt with in England say, then it cannot be in France or China or Jamaica at the same time, so the sale or transfer of assets in those countries will have to wait until the Will becomes available.

Most countries expect a Will to be made in that country in the language of that country. So if you have assets in Spain but your Will is made in English, it will need to be translated. Certain English expressions or phrases may be impossible to translate and not have an equivalent meaning in Spain, and then your Spanish Executors will need the help of a Notary to explain what your intentions were.

If you make a separate Will for each country, you can appoint different Trustees in each country. Otherwise if you appoint friends in England to be your executor worldwide, they will have to find lawyers and attorneys in foreign countries where they may not speak or read the language, to help them in respect of the foreign assets abroad.

If you make separate wills for each jurisdiction, you can use an English lawyer to make the English Will and a Chinese lawyer for the Chinese Will and so on. You will get better advice this way – each country has different rules about inheritance and tax and local lawyers will be able to give local advice.

For example in France it is very difficult to make a valid will which does not leave at least some of your estate to your children.

I don’t suppose I have listed all the reasons why it is a good idea, but the above should be enough to be going on with?

My client replied to thank me for my answer – ” thank you for  answering my question Mr Atkinson I notice its different stroke for different folk I suppose its the way of the world we live in” .

Certainly the business of living – or dying – as a Citizen of the World is not getting any less complicated

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