Getting your finances in order is crucially important if you are an expat living on foreign shores. Writing a will may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re thinking of a new life on Bondi Beach, but should the worst happen you’ll need to make sure your property and belongings are passed to the right people. Different countries have different rules about the division of assets so without a Will, your finances may be in legal limbo for years. Making a Will guarantees whoever you want to receive your assets, will receive them.
Having assets in two different countries slightly complicates your financial arrangements, but not to any great length where you might feel it’s just all too much hassle. You will need to keep a copy of the Will in both your home country and your new place of residence. This is vital especially if you still have property back in your hometown, not to mention family members. Your home country tends to be the place a Will is administered, but again some countries have different rules, so it’s worth checking out the legalities in your new place of residence. Don’t assume all countries are the same. Seek legal advice to insure you are not caught out.
Tax can also be an issue if you have properties and assets in two different countries so take time to investigate how you can avoid paying huge amounts of it in both places. Legal advice in both countries is essential so you don’t end up losing large sums to the tax man. There may also be complications if you marry overseas and you will need to continue to update your will, whenever your situation changes.
Making a Will is easy. The UK government offers a step-by-step guide to ensuring your Will is legal.
Their key points are as follows:
You can write your Will yourself, but you should get legal advice, for example from Citizens Advice, to make sure your will is interpreted in the way you wanted. You need to get your Will formally witnessed and signed to make it legally valid. If you want to update your Will, you need to make an official alteration (called a ‘codicil’) or make a new Will.
2. Write your Will – what it should include:
– who should look after any children under 18
– who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)
– what happens if the people you want to benefit die before you
– who you want to benefit from your Will?
3. When you need legal advice:
You can get advice from a professional if your Will isn’t straightforward, e.g.:
– you share a property with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner
– you want to leave money or property to a dependent who can’t care for themselves
– you have several family members who may make a claim on your will, e.g. a second spouse or children from another marriage
– your permanent home is outside the UK
– you have property overseas
– you have a business
4. Keep your Will safe:
You can keep your Will at your home or store it with:
– your solicitor
– your bank
– a company that offers the storage of wills – you can search online
– the London Probate Service
More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/make-will.
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Image: Legal Papers by Trevor Turk https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/