Consider overseas assets when making a Will

PEOPLE usually understand the importance of having a Will although statistics say that most Australians don’t have one.

If you don’t have a Will then the finalisation of your estate and affairs will inevitably be more expensive, complicated and uncertain. The issue becomes even greater when people have overseas assets.

There is an increasing number of Australians who have family, investments or property overseas. Different countries have very different laws in relation to Wills and inheritance which reflect their histories and culture. Many European countries, for instance, have laws which automatically determine how some property is divided on death and a Will can play a lesser part in someone’s affairs.

It’s important to establish where a person lived or was “domiciled” at the time of their death as this may determine in part the laws of which country apply. In addition, what are called “immovables’’e.g. real property is often governed by the law of where the property was located whereas “movables” e.g. bank accounts are governed by the law in the country or state where the person lived or was domiciled.

It is also necessary to determine whether a person should have one Will covering assets in all countries or multiple Wills in multiple countries and this can only be determined by looking at the nature of the assets held by that person, where they live or are domiciled, and the laws of each country.

Sometimes it is easier when you are administering an estate, to have a separate Will in each country where the assets are located. Costs and administration complications can be less.

Anyone with assets or inheritances in more than one country needs to think about their Will and its provisions. They should also consider an EPOA.

Until next week – Keep it Legal

Gerard Pender

*The legal information in this article if of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon.

Walker PenderConsider overseas assets when making a Will