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Becoming an Expat

Expat Wills

Here's a forum to talk about all the ins and outs of leaving the UK and launching yourself into the wide blue yonder - selling up, saying goodbyes, all that sort of thing. NB - this is NOT for country-specific issues; please post those on the appropriate country forum.

Expat Wills

Postby Dave » Tue 5 Oct 2010 16:09 GMT

CHE26 has just asked an interesting question on the New Zealand forum:

CHE26 wrote:I need to make a new Will. I am British, married to an Australian and currently living and working in New Zealand although my husband and I plan to return to Australia in the next few years. I have assets in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and beneficiaries in the UK, Australia and New Zealand! My executors are in the UK and New Zealand. Under which law should I make my will or does it not matter??

It's an interesting question, and I think it would bear wider discussion, which is why I'm reposting it here.

I'm honestly not sure whether there's a correct way to proceed in every case, but my presumption has always been that if you have assets in multiple jurisdictions, and you have a separate will drawn up for each jurisdiction, dealing solely with the assets falling under that jurisdiction, then you'll be certain to get it right.

Otherwise you run the risk of a will drawn up perfectly legally under one set of laws, which contravenes the laws where the assets are physically held - and that will be a nightmare for your executor(s) to sort out. Alternatively you could try to draw up a will that covers multiple jurisdictions, but if any of the provisions contravene the laws of the jurisdiction where the will is lodged, then you have a different but equally difficult situation for the executors.

If anyone can contribute a more authoritative view than that, based on experience in the law, I for one would be very interested to hear. Understanding, of course, that any opinions volunteered would be just that - opinions with no guarantees as to their legal validity. ;-)
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Postby Buddyboy » Mon 18 Oct 2010 18:53 GMT

I hesitate to post a commercial link, Dave, but there is a good deal of seemingly valid information at [Link expired: see below. - Dave] They cover the possibility of an "International Will", although there are only a limited number of countries / jurisdictions that recognize and abide by them.
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Postby ruggie » Fri 17 Dec 2010 18:37 GMT

Buddyboy, your link now leads to an amusing 404 page:

Market crash (404)

Much like a guaranteed return on your investments, this page cannot be found.
The answers you are looking for can be found in our Search above

The best I could find on the site by using their search was aimed at Canadian citizens.

I tried trawling the net to find out which countries were signatories to any convention on international wills, but failed. I found a lot of professionals advising people to make a will in each country (with each one noting the existence of the other wills, so that they are not invalidated). Looks as if that is the safest solution, but it would probably pay to consult an expert.
Whether you live in France, or just find the country interesting ... nts-up-50/
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