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Great interaction. I had a simple question which would have cost a fortune going to see a local solicitor. It was all very professional but still friendly. The solicitor I spoke to was the chief executive of her law firm (I looked her up on LinkedIn). You are dealing with very good lawyers who earn additional money through Lawhive. I would definitely use this service again. Highly recommend.
Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
Tahir Idris,
04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
Julie Taylor,
01 June, 23
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I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
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23 July, 23
Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
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Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
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21 November, 23
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About

An International Will is a will that is valid in multiple countries. It is a legal document that allows you to leave your assets to your loved ones in a way that is legally binding in multiple countries. Solicitors can ensure that your International Will is valid in the country (or countries) of your choice.Next steps

How much does an International Will cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with an International Will is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £188-£250 but in some cases it could cost as much as £313.

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If you’re a resident of England and Wales, you can make a will in England with a local solicitor. In this will, you can make it clear that it covers all of your assets, no matter where they are located.

Alternatively, you can have your English will focus only on assets held in England, while making separate wills in other countries to address assets there. 

If you have assets in multiple countries, including offshore holdings, you might consider an international will. 

international-will

Without an international will, the distribution of your assets when you die can become complicated and time-consuming. What’s more, as each country has its own rules for probate, your assets may be distributed differently than you intended.

At Lawhive, our network of experienced wills, trust, and probate solicitors can help you make an international will for affordable fixed fees.

To get started, contact our Legal Assessment Team for a free case evaluation and no-obligation quote.

What is an international will?

An international will is a legal document that outlines how a person's assets (money, property, possessions) should be distributed after death, specifically when those assets are located in different countries. 

Do I need separate wills for different countries?

If you own assets in different countries, it’s often wise to have separate wills so you can be sure that each asset follows the specific rules of that location. Each country has its own set of laws and regulations governing how assets are distributed after someone dies. Having separate wills gives you the confidence that your money, property, and/or business interests are handled according to the local legal requirements.

However, it's important to consult with a solicitor who specialises in international estate planning to determine the best approach for your specific circumstances and can help you to address:

  • The local laws that apply in each country.

  • Your specific assets and the value of them.

  • If and where probate can or should be taken.

  • Who can apply for probate in each country.

  • Inheritance rules for each country.

  • Family provision applications.

  • Revocation of the will.

  • Tax and estate administration requirements.

What is a global will?

A global will, also known as an international will, is a legal document that covers all of an individual's assets, regardless of location. It is governed by the Administration of Justice Act 1982

Unlike traditional wills, which are typically drafted according to the laws of a specific country, a global will is designed to accommodate assets in multiple jurisdictions.

The purpose of a global will is to simplify estate planning for individuals with international connections by providing a comprehensive and clear approach to asset distribution. Instead of having separate wills for assets in different countries, a global will allows individuals to outline their wishes for all their assets in a single document.

A global will typically addresses various aspects of estate planning, including the appointment of executors and trustees, the distribution of assets among beneficiaries, and any specific instructions or wishes regarding the administration of the estate. It may also include provisions for tax planning, charitable gifts, and guardianship of minor children, among other considerations.

To ensure the validity and enforceability of a global will, it's important to work with a solicitor who specialises in international estate planning

Can a UK will cover worldwide assets?

Yes, a UK will can cover worldwide assets.

In the United Kingdom, a properly drafted will can specify how you want your assets, whether they are located in the UK or abroad, to be distributed after your death. 

This means that you can include assets such as properties, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings located in other countries in your UK will.

However, it's essential to ensure that your UK will complies with the legal requirements of the countries where your assets are located.

While a UK will can generally cover worldwide assets, there may be specific laws or regulations in other countries that could affect the validity or enforceability of certain provisions in your will.

Who might need more than one will?

Individuals with assets or beneficiaries in multiple countries may need more than one will and it is perfectly legal to do so.

Some people who have assets in different countries might make two wills, one to deal with their assets in the country that they live in, and one will to cover where the majority of the assets are. 

People sometimes choose to do this to make sure that the wills meet the different requirements of succession laws, which are unlikely to be the same across countries. They might also do this so that the estates in each country can be distributed without having to wait for the formal document that gives title to the executors

What are the main advantages of an international will?

The main advantages of an international will, also known as a global will, include:

  • Comprehensive coverage: allows individuals with assets in multiple countries to put their estate planning into one document. This simplifies the process and makes sure that all assets, regardless of location, are addressed in one cohesive plan.

  • Clarity and certainty: By specifying how assets should be distributed across different jurisdictions, an international will provides clarity and certainty for executors, beneficiaries, and other parties involved in estate administration. This reduces the risk of confusion, disputes, or legal challenges after the individual's death.

  • Streamlined administration: With an international will in place, the probate process can be streamlined, as there is no need to create and administer multiple wills for assets in different countries. This saves time, effort, and administrative costs for executors and administrators.

  • Flexibility and adaptability: International wills can be tailored to accommodate various estate planning needs, including the appointment of executors and trustees, tax planning strategies, charitable bequests, and specific instructions for asset distribution. This flexibility allows individuals to customise their estate plans according to their wishes and circumstances.

  • Legal compliance: An international will is drafted to comply with international standards and legal requirements, ensuring that it is recognised and enforceable in multiple jurisdictions. This helps avoid potential challenges or complications during the probate process and provides peace of mind for the individual and their beneficiaries.

  • Tax efficiency: International wills can incorporate tax planning strategies to minimize tax liabilities and take advantage of tax-saving opportunities in different countries. This may include provisions for estate taxes, inheritance taxes, capital gains taxes, and other tax considerations relevant to the individual's assets and beneficiaries.

Is a will valid internationally?

Whether a will is valid internationally depends on the laws of each country involved. While some countries may recognise and enforce wills executed in other jurisdictions, others may have specific requirements or formalities for wills to be considered valid.

Many countries are signatories to international agreements or conventions, such as the Hague Convention on the Conflicts of Laws Relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions, which aims to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of foreign wills. 

However, even within countries that have ratified such agreements, there may still be variations in how foreign wills are treated.

In general, for a will to be considered valid internationally, it should meet the following criteria:

  • The will must comply with the legal formalities required by the jurisdiction where it was executed. This typically includes requirements for witnesses, signatures, and notarization.

  • The person making the will (the testator) must have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions and the nature and extent of their assets.

  • The will must be made voluntarily, without undue influence or coercion from others.

  • The provisions of the will should not contravene the public policy of the country where it is being recognized.

  • The will must be recognized and accepted by the local authorities in the country where the assets are located.

It's important to note that even if a will is considered valid in one country, it may still need to go through a validation process or probate procedure in another country where assets are located. 

Additionally, legal advice should be sought to ensure that the will complies with the laws and requirements of each relevant jurisdiction.

How do I make an international will?

To make an international will, you should consult with a solicitor who specialises in international estate planning. They can ensure that the will complies with legal requirements in different countries and accurately reflects your wishes.

To speed up the process, make a list of all your assets, including properties, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings, located in different countries. Consider how you want these assets to be distributed after your death and share this with your solicitor. 

Then, it is helpful to familiarise yourself with the legal requirements for wills in each country where you have assets or connections. This may include rules regarding witnesses, signatures, notarisation, and other formalities.

You will then work with your solicitor to draft the international will, ensuring that it accurately reflects your wishes and complies with the laws of all relevant jurisdictions. Consider including provisions for the appointment of executors, guardianship of minor children, tax planning strategies, and any specific instructions for asset distribution.

As always and with any will, arrange for the execution of the international will following the legal requirements of the jurisdiction where it is being signed. This may involve signing the document in the presence of witnesses and having it notarized or authenticated as necessary.

Remember to keep the original copy of the international will in a safe and secure location, such as with your solicitor or in a secure deposit box. Provide copies of the will to your appointed executors, trusted family members, and any other relevant parties.

And of course, review your international will periodically and update it as needed to reflect any changes in your circumstances, such as changes in assets, beneficiaries, or personal preferences.

How should I sign my international will?

International wills typically require specific formalities for signing and witnessing. Your solicitor will advise you on the correct procedure to ensure the validity of the document in the country in which your will is being made. 

As always, look at the legal requirements for signing wills in the jurisdiction where you are executing the document. Each country will have specific rules regarding the number of witnesses required, their qualifications, and other formalities.

Your will should be witnessed by the appropriate number of witnesses as required by the laws of the jurisdiction where you are signing the document. Typically, witnesses must be competent adults who are not beneficiaries or closely related to beneficiaries.

Sign the international will in the presence of your witnesses, and have them sign the document in your presence as well. This ensures that the witnesses can attest to the fact that you signed the will voluntarily and with full understanding of its contents.

Don’t forget, you must sign your name exactly as it appears in the document, using your usual signature. Avoid using nicknames or abbreviations to prevent any confusion or challenges to the validity of the will.

Depending on the legal requirements of the jurisdiction where you are executing the will, you may need to have the document notarized or authenticated by a legal authority. This provides additional evidence of the validity of the will and may be necessary for its recognition in certain countries.

How is an international will executed?

An international will is executed according to the laws of the country where it is signed. 

Your solicitor will guide you through the execution process to ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Should I let anyone know that I have made an international will?

It's advisable to inform your loved ones and any relevant parties, such as executors and beneficiaries, that you have made an international will. This helps avoid confusion and ensures that your wishes are known and respected.

Providing key individuals with information about your international will allow them to access important details, such as the location of the original document, contact information for your solicitor, and instructions for estate administration. This facilitates a smoother transition and ensures that necessary steps can be taken promptly when needed.

You may also want to provide them with copies of relevant documents or contact information for your solicitor to address any questions or concerns they may have. Ultimately, open communication and transparency can contribute to a smoother and more efficient estate administration process.

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What does jurisdiction mean?

Jurisdiction refers to the authority or power of a court or legal system to make decisions, enforce laws, and administer justice within a specific geographical area or over certain types of cases.

Each country or region has its own jurisdictional boundaries, and courts within that jurisdiction have the authority to hear cases and enforce laws within those boundaries. 

Jurisdiction can also refer to the authority of a court to handle particular types of legal matters, such as family law, criminal law, or probate.

It is important to understand jurisdiction when engaging in legal matters to ensure that legal proceedings are conducted in the appropriate forum and that decisions are enforceable within the relevant jurisdiction.

How does the absence of an international will complicate the distribution of assets?

We’ve all heard of the saying, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and this couldn’t be more appropriate in this case!

The absence of an international will can complicate the distribution of assets by potentially leading to legal disputes, delays, and uncertainty regarding how assets should be distributed across different countries.

For example, the distribution of assets may become subject to the laws of each jurisdiction where the assets are located. This can result in legal complications and uncertainty, as different countries may have conflicting laws regarding inheritance, succession, and estate administration.

And then comes the problem of time. Without clear instructions that would be provided by an international will, the probate process may be delayed as executors and beneficiaries work through the legal requirements and procedures in multiple jurisdictions. This can result in prolonged delays in distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries.

The absence of an international will may also lead to unintended tax consequences, as assets may be subject to different tax regimes in each jurisdiction where they are located. Without proper planning and guidance provided by a will, heirs and beneficiaries may incur higher tax liabilities than necessary.

What factors do different countries consider when determining how an estate should be distributed if there is no international will?

Different countries consider various factors when determining how an estate should be distributed if there is no international will, including:

  • their laws of intestacy

  • the deceased person's domicile (where they were permanently living)

  • the location of assets

  • any applicable international treaties or agreements

  • family relationships

  • forced heirship laws

  • customary law or religious law

Of course, these factors vary widely depending on the country and the specific legal systems, cultural norms, and international agreements involved. 

How do international wills address the distribution of moveable and immovable assets held in different countries?

Moveable assets, also known as personal property or chattels, are assets that can be physically moved or transported from one location to another. 

These include items such as:

  • Cash and bank accounts

  • Investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)

  • Jewellery and valuable items

  • Vehicles (cars, boats, airplanes)

  • Artwork and collectibles

  • Furniture and household goods

  • Intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trademarks)

  • Livestock and agricultural products

Immovable assets, on the other hand, are assets that cannot be easily moved or transported and are typically attached to or located on land. 

These include:

  • Property (land, buildings, houses)

  • Leasehold interests in land

  • Mineral rights and natural resources (oil, gas, minerals)

  • Easements and rights of way

  • Agricultural land and crops

  • Permanent fixtures attached to buildings (plumbing, heating systems, built-in appliances)

  • Timber and forests

Usually, moveable assets may be distributed through a will or trust, while immovable assets may be subject to specific laws governing real property and land ownership in each jurisdiction where they are located.

What role does international tax law play in the drafting of international wills?

International wills may incorporate tax planning strategies to try and minimise tax liabilities associated with the transfer of assets across borders. 

This may include structuring the distribution of assets in a tax-efficient manner, taking advantage of available tax exemptions, credits, or deductions, and utilising tax treaties between countries to reduce or eliminate double taxation.

They will also take into account the potential impact of estate and inheritance taxes in each jurisdiction where assets are located. Executors and beneficiaries may need to work through complex tax laws and regulations governing the taxation of estates and inheritances, including thresholds for taxable estates, tax rates, and exemptions.

And then there is the potential impact of gift and wealth transfer taxes on the transfer of assets during the testator's lifetime or after their death. Strategies to minimise gift and wealth transfer taxes may be incorporated into the will, such as making tax-efficient gifts during the testator's lifetime or utilising exemptions and exclusions available under local tax laws.

Common challenges of international wills

Common challenges of international wills include navigating complex legal requirements in multiple different countries and jurisdictions, addressing language and cultural differences, coordinating with foreign authorities, and ensuring compliance with differing international tax laws.

Not only this, but administering an estate with assets located in multiple countries can be complex and time-consuming, requiring coordination with legal advisors, financial institutions, and other parties in different jurisdictions. 

Managing and distributing assets across borders while complying with local laws and regulations can pose significant challenges, so get in touch with a solicitor from the outset to make your life easier. 

How can Lawhive help?

Lawhive can connect you with experienced solicitors who specialise in international estate planning. Our solicitors can provide expert advice and guidance on drafting international wills, navigating legal complexities, and ensuring that your estate planning needs are met across borders. 

With Lawhive, you can have peace of mind knowing that your assets are protected and your wishes are respected, no matter where in the world they may be.  Get in touch with us today to get a free case assessment.

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