Do Make a Will For Use in Every Country Where You Have Money

Make a Will For Use in Every Country Where You Have Money

The advice I give is that everyone should have a separate Will, one per Country in which they hold assets. To quote Jack White, I have said it once before but it bears repeating.

Please read my other blogs for the reasons why. In this one, the point I wish to stress is that you would be very wise to have your foreign Will prepared for you by a Foreign Lawyer,

If you were to instruct an English Lawyer or Notary to draft your foreign Will for you in England, where presumably most of your assets are, and where you are domiciled and ordinarily resident in UK, then most countries would accept that the provisions of that UK will should apply but this is often subject to rules of forced succession. Some countries require that a share of assets must always go to certain heirs – spouse or children- whatever the Will might say to the contrary.

Even if the English Will would be applied word for word there are still logistic difficulties in only having one Will worldwide.

Does your English lawyer know the language of the Country concerned? In Austria, they use a version of German, in UAE they use Arabic – does your lawyer in England have the capability of writing your will in the necessary language?

Does the lawyer know how many originals to make? In England we make only one, but in Spain you make two duplicate originals, one for the Notary and one for the Registry

Does the lawyer know whether the foreign Country has a central wills register, or any of the many other small details and specifications that can arise? For example, Spain has – open wills – closed wills, holographic wills, oral wills and a Wills registry.

There may also be laws in the foreign country barring persons from giving advice for money as to preparation of wills. Perhaps only a National Lawyer or Notary can do this? I think it could be very dangerous for an English lawyer to undertake to prepare your foreign Will and indeed I suggest they would be uninsured to advise and prepare foreign Wills:- is that really part of what an English Solicitor does?

Many countries would require that if a Will is executed abroad, i.e. in England, then it must be executed both in accordance with the law of England – i.e. 2 witnesses and you, all three signing in the presence of all three – and also in accordance with their own requirements as to execution of Wills. Usually this includes being executed in the presence of a Notary – so in England, you plus three witnesses one of whom is a Notary – and probably in duplicate. The Notary then keeps one original whilst the other is Apostilled and perhaps further legalised at Consulate then forwarded to the host country.

So my strong suggestion to you is that your usual English lawyer should assist only to the extent of taking your instructions, and then finding lawyers abroad with whom they can work to advise as to the Will and checking that it works “holistically” with the English and any other Wills you have made worldwide, to minimise IHT and double taxations etc. and then find you a Notary to act as one of the witnesses and legalise thereafter.

Please do contact me whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation – at or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)