How To Put Together A Will As An Expat

For many people, the chance to move abroad is the ultimate dream and an opportunity to live out your days in a sun-soaked paradise.

And for most that is exactly the case.

But what happens at the end of your days? Different countries across the globe all treat inheritance and wills differently, so it is vitally important you are aware of those stipulations to ensure the best for your loved ones.

Fortunately, expert companies such as Beyond are here to help…

Why Do I Need To Be Specific About My Will As An Expat?

Quite simply, because if you don’t you may be causing all sorts of problems for those you care most about. In a worst-case scenario it may take years of legal wrangling, at a great cost, for them to see their inheritance. And, even then, they may be seeing even less than expected if they find themselves being taxed twice. 

Why Would That Happen?

Because if you have properties and bank accounts in more than one country, they will more than likely come under different jurisdictions and be affected by different rules. Immoveable assets, such as an overseas property, could well be taxed by the nation it belongs in, while your domicile status – even if you are no longer a resident in a certain country – could still mean you have to pay inheritance tax. Often you may need to write a will for each country you have assets or bank accounts in, and they must be written in line with one another to avoid further pitfalls.

What Could This Mean For My Dependants?

It could mean the amount of inheritance tax paid by your estate will vary depending on the country you live in and own assets in. You may also be taxed twice. Succession law in certain countries may also define where your assets go. For example, if you become a resident of France, retire there or buy a property in that country then French inheritance law and inheritance tax – which traditionally protects the line of descent, favouring children and grandchildren over spouses – may apply to your assets. Sometimes foreign residents can choose the laws of their domicile nation to apply to their estate. But not always.

How Do I Make Sure I Do The Best For My Dependants?

It is important to ensure you know what your domicile status is. Then, spend some time understanding the laws of the countries in which you have properties, assets and accounts (if you are a UK resident you may still be expected to pay inheritance tax on any assets worldwide). Then prepare to write your will(s) accordingly. Of course, this is a very difficult task, especially for someone who doesn’t speak the language of the country they live in fluently. Often it will serve you and your family best to seek advice from the experts, be they local or companies who are dedicated to helping you in such situations. Also remember to update your will(s) as your circumstances change – for example the birth of a new child, a divorce/separation, acquisition of news assets, marriage.


in collaboration with Chelsea Ellsworth

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