What happens if you own assets overseas?

A person owning assets in different countries and jurisdictions can often cause headaches for will makers and estate lawyers alike, because succession law often varies between countries and even within states of a country, e.g. Australia.

However there is now further guidance for will makers and estate lawyers in relation to international Wills.

“The Convention”

On 10 September 2014, Australia ratified the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973 (‘The Convention’) which seeks to harmonise and simplify the formalities of Wills that deal with international assets.

The Convention will enter into force on 10 March 2015 in all Australian states and territories have passed legislation to give effect to the Convention.

In Queensland on 10 March 2015 a new division 6A will be introduced into the Succession Act 1981.

The purpose of the convention is to assist with conflict of law issues which arise where a will maker dies with assets in two different countries, one Will and conflict of law issues in relation to the validity of the Will in both jurisdictions.

To prepare an international will in accordance with the new legislation, both countries where the Will maker has assets must not only be a signatory to the Convention but both countries must also have passed legislation giving effect to the International Will.

International Will requirements

For an International Will to be valid it must have the following:

  1. Be witnessed by three (3) witnesses, with one of the witnesses being an authorized person e.g. solicitor or notary public;
  2. Have an authorized witness certificate attached to the Will confirming certain requirements have been met.

It is still recommended and prudent in the writer’s opinion, that if a person owns significant assets in two (2) different countries, a Will maker to make a separate Will in each country dealing specifically with that country’s assets.  This will ensure that a Will maker is given the appropriate legal advice in both countries regarding their assets.

Estate planning at Turner Freeman Lawyers

For assistance with any aspect of your estate planning, please contact Turner Freeman Lawyers Wills and Estates Team on (07) 3025 9000.

Get to know our Wills and Estates solicitor

Jenna Hutchinson is employed as an Associate in Turner Freeman’s Brisbane office. Over the past 2 years, Jenna has worked exclusively in the area of Succession Law as this is where her passion lies.

Jenna always strives to do the best she can for her clients to ensure that their wishes are adhered to, as well as tries to achieve the best outcome for her clients if they have been unfairly left out of a Will. She is also experienced in defending the Estate against complex claims.