29 June, 2009
These days, it is not uncommon for people to own property abroad as well as in the UK. It is important to consider who will inherit this property and whether your Will in the UK covers it. You should take legal advice before purchasing any property abroad.
When drafting a Will, your solicitor should be asking you for details of your assets, including any property abroad. A UK Will may not necessarily cover this property and, if it doesn't, the property will pass according to the law of the relevant country and therefore not necessarily to who you may wish.
The way other countries deal with inheritance is often very different to the UK. In the UK we are free to leave our assets to whoever we choose. However, in other countries the law dictates who must inherit some or all of your estate - this includes France and Spain.
It is also important to note the difference between "moveable property" and "immoveable property" as they are dealt with differently. Immoveable property means land and this is generally dealt with in accordance with the law of the country in which the land is situated. Therefore, anyone who owns land or property abroad should be aware that their UK Will may not be able to deal with this and they should seek legal advice in the relevant country.
"Moveable property" covers such things as cash, shares and personal belongings. As a general rule, moveable property is dealt with in accordance with the law of the country where the person is domiciled. Moveable property abroad can generally be covered by a UK Will.
It is possible to have more than one Will. If you have assets abroad you should consider making a separate Will in each country where you have assets to deal specifically with those assets. This can make things clearer and make it easier to sort out on your death. It is important to make sure that the person making each Will knows that you have made Wills in other countries so that those other Wills are not revoked by mistake.