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FDR Law Legal Clinic - Foreign Assets

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Legal advice from Ian Sydenham, partner and head private client, based at FDR Law’s office in Warrington

Q: I have just purchased a property abroad; will this be included in the estate assets in my Will?

A: More and more people are buying property overseas, both as holiday homes and permanent residences. It is important to consider what will happen to these properties on death.

Many countries (including Scotland) do not allow the same flexibility as England and Wales when dealing with property on death. It is quite common for legal rules known as "forced heirship" to determine who receives an interest in property on death. For example in France only bloodline relatives can inherit property. Sometimes it is possible to replace the forced heirship rules in whole or part with a Will but not always.

It is important to take legal advice in the relevant country when purchasing property abroad to ensure that your wishes are implemented on death as far as possible. It is also important that you prepare a Will dealing with your property in England and Wales.

Our usual advice is to have two separate Wills, one dealing with your property abroad and the other with your property in England and Wales. It is very important to ensure that the two Wills do not interfere with each other. For example, make sure that one Will does not revoke the other leaving part of your estate undealt with.

You should also bear in mind the effects of taxation on your estate. If you live permanently in England and Wales then usually Inheritance Tax may be charged on your worldwide estate not just assets in England and Wales. This can cause complications if tax is also charged abroad or if most of your assets are abroad making it difficult for your executors to pay the Inheritance Tax charged.

If you would like more information on creating a foreign Will or amending an existing Will contact Ian Sydenham at or on 01925 230000