08 November, 2010
The recent death of Ian Cameron, father of the Prime Minister, in France is a reminder to all those who own property abroad of the need to seek legal advice in the country where the property is situated, not only in relation to the purchase of property but also as to its disposal on death. Many countries have very different inheritance rules to the UK.
English law allows us the freedom to leave our property to whoever we choose. Many other countries however have more rigid laws as to the rules of succession and how property passes on death and as such, foreign property may not automatically pass as you might expect.
People need to be aware that there is a difference between "immoveable" property and "moveable" property. Immoveable property means land or property. Such property owned abroad may not be covered by an English Will and legal advice from a lawyer in the country where the land or property is owned must be obtained. Moveable property refers to cash, shares and personal items and may be covered by an English Will. If you have created an English Will prior to the purchase of a holiday home abroad, it is recommended that you consult with your solicitor to check whether the current Will covers the moveable property owned abroad.
Many people also assume that buying a property abroad means that they will not pay UK inheritance tax. This is not the case and UK inheritance tax may still be charged on foreign property.
It is usually advisable to make separate Wills in each country where assets are held and it is also important to ensure that the Wills only deal with the assets in the respective country and do not inadvertently revoke any other Wills which are already in place. In this way the Wills can run concurrently with the property passing to your chosen beneficiaries.
For further information please contact Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts specialist Kirsten Bradley on 01772 220022 or contact Kirsten Bradley by email.