A full evaluation of your Will writing options should be an essential aspect of any expat financial services plan. If you have interests across two or more jurisdictions, whether they are business, investment, familial or lifestyle you need to be educated and aware of the implications that this can bring.
For example, when you have assets in both Britain and another country, it can be confusing to know whether you should write a single Will covering all the assets in both jurisdictions or whether you should write separate Wills: one for each jurisdiction in the language of that region/country.
Unfortunately, without expert legal and expat financial services advice, it may not be possible to answer the question with any confidence. You should consider all of the following:
If you have a sizeable estate this increases the possibility of it incurring significant inheritance tax, potentially across more than one jurisdiction.
If you have only one Will you need to ask your expat financial adviser whether it adequately addresses the tax issues at the heart of each jurisdiction or whether there is another way to mitigate liability in a way that is in the interests of your heirs and other beneficiaries.
Common or civil law?
The UK is a common law country whereas most others in the EU are civil law jurisdictions. This may have some impact on whether your Will is recognised in all the countries in which your assets are held.
EU Succession Regulation
EU Succession Regulation (EU 650/2012) (“the Regulation”), also known as Brussels IV, was introduced to unify succession laws across EU member states. It allows expats residing in the EU to elect the law of their country of origin rather than that of their country of residence.
This is particularly important in countries such as Spain and Portugal which have ‘forced heirship’ rules in place dictating that on death you must hand on your assets in certain ways—i.e. along traditional bloodlines.
This can help create clarity with regard to cross-border inheritances as it standardises succession law across the EU, reducing costs and reducing the potential for delays and contention during the probate process.
Although the UK opted out of the regulation, UK nationals living in the EU can still opt to have UK succession law apply on death.
Advice from Blacktower Financial Management
Are your assets recognised as “movable”, should you have one Will or more and should you use the EU Succession Regulation to nominate your country of nationality for inheritance and probate?
At Blacktower Financial Management our experts can help you negotiate these important questions and more. As a an expat financial services and wealth management specialist with many years of experience in numerous overseas jurisdictions, we can help you protect and grow your wealth while also working to ensure that your wishes are fully recognised and fulfilled on death. Contact us today for more information.