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Wills And Inheritance


When moving abroad it is important to ensure that your loved ones will be protected in the event of your death. Making a will is the best way to guarantee the fair distribution of your assets following your death although if you have an existing will in your country of origin it may not be valid in your new country and a new document may be necessary. Consulting a local solicitor when you arrive is the best way to clarify the legal requirements.

When you become a resident in another country you may acquire assets as you would in your home country. You may choose to purchase property or keep savings in a bank account, for example, and these assets which will also need to be protected and distributed after your death according to your wishes.

If you do not make a will and you have assets in your home country then the laws of that country apply to the distribution. Some countries will automatically pass these assets on to the spouse or dependent children. Some countries will allow all relatives to make a claim to the estate and divide it accordingly. It is for this reason that a will is important, ensuring as it does that the person(s) you wish to inherit will do so.

Some countries do not allow a person’s debts to die with them and in this situation a family will have to continue paying bills even if the division of an estate has not been resolved. Making a will also reduces the chances of family members arguing about who should inherit.

It is also important to ensure that you are aware of the inheritance laws in your home country. For example, for residents in the UK there may be inheritance taxes to pay, depending upon the size of the estate.

There are firms which specialise in drawing up wills which cover assets held in all countries, removing the need for a will in each one. These firms can ensure that the wills are compliant with the regulations of each country so that in the event of your death the process of probate runs smoothly.

Some countries will accept a hand written will as a legally binding document although many will not. In any event, having a will drawn up professionally is always the best option and no matter where you are in the world, there will be a law firm nearby which can help - ask friends or colleagues for a recommendation. The cost of having a properly drawn up will is preferable to the costs incurred by lengthy probate proceedings that can occur if a person is considered to have died intestate.

One final word of caution. Recently, a number of will writing service providers have come under scrutiny due to their sales tactics and fee structures, including charging a percentage of an estate when assets are distributed. Always check the small print carefully if using such a service but In most cases the services of a legal professional (e.g. a solicitor) remain the preferred choice when drawing up a will.


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