Protecting Your Overseas Assets For Your Heirs In The Next Generation

Published date10 April 2023
Subject MatterWealth Management, Family and Matrimonial, Wealth & Asset Management, Wills/ Intestacy/ Estate Planning
Law FirmGiambrone & Partners
AuthorMr Gonzalo Butori

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that 784,900 British citizens live in the EU, many of whom own property in their country of choice. A frequently neglected but essential consideration is that of making a will that incorporates your foreign assets. Most people intend what remains of their estate when they die to be inherited by their immediate family. However, whilst the intention to make a will is often in the mind, actually doing so may lag behind.

It is particularly important for British nationals who have relocated to Europe to think very carefully about drafting a will that allows them the testimony freedom of the laws of England and Wales as if they die intestate in a European Union country their estate will fall under the laws of succession of the country in which they lived. Our expert inheritance lawyers point out, most countries in the EU have succession laws under forced heirship, meaning that very strict rules on how an estate is divided. The laws of inheritance follow a strict order and only relatives can inherit. An unmarried partner, regardless of how long the relationship lasted, will not be considered at all.

In France, Italy, Spain and Portugal the spouse, children and other close relatives receive a defined percentage of the estate that cannot be overridden; with children often receiving a greater proportion of the estate than the remaining spouse.

Gonzalo Butori, a partner, commented "in order to avoid getting caught by the laws of succession in the country to which you have relocated, it is strongly advised that you commission two wills one in the country in which you reside stating that your estate is to be dealt with under the laws of succession of England & Wales in accordance with your English will." Gonzalo further pointed out "this will not only deliver absolute clarity over how you wish your estate to be divided amongst your beneficiaries but will also considerably assist your executors to administer your estate overseas without unnecessary costly time-consuming procedures by removing a part of the administrative procedures from the executors' shoulders and enabling your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance far sooner."


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