Protecting Foreign Assets In Estate Planning
Jack Harrington

Increasing international mobility means that many more clients own assets outside the UK or have beneficiaries resident outside the UK. This needs to be taken into account when making wills as it is important to consider the tax position in different jurisdictions and ensure that a will works effectively in each jurisdiction in which the client holds assets. “Forced heirship” provisions in many European countries will need to be considered.  Planning properly ensures that all these issues are dealt with so that cost and delay following a death are minimised.

Wills need to cross refer to each other and operate independently and concurrently with each other. It is important for a solicitor who specialises in cross border estate planning to look at all the Wills together and to liaise with the lawyer in other jurisdictions to ensure that a coordinated approach is adopted. All too often, clients make Wills in different jurisdictions without the oversight of a specialist estate planning lawyer, with the result that Wills can revoke each other or refer incorrectly to the property they are seeking to dispose of.  This causes confusion, cost and delay in the future and can even result in assets passing to the wrong people.

When thinking about property overseas or beneficiaries in different countries, it is important to consult a specialist solicitor who is familiar with dealing with lawyers in different jurisdictions and can identify any relevant tax or legal issues, which are likely to cause problems in the event of your death. A coordinated approach will ensure that the minimum amount of tax is paid and that assets are passed to the correct beneficiaries.

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