A Will is one of the most important legal document you will make to protect your loved ones. However, people wrongly assume that once they have executed their Will, the devolution of their estate is sorted for the best when the worst come.
Not updating your Will in line to changes in your personal circumstances or assets can be a costly mistake for the beneficiaries. There are often legal ways to resolve issues after death but they entail more time and cost to put in place.
There are many reasons why you should update your will including:
- Your personal situation has changed since you have made your Will; marriage, divorce, new born child…
- The size of your estate is not the same as what was written in your Will;
- You have moved to a new country which may have different inheritance laws than the country where your Will was written;
- A beneficiary of your Will has recently died;
- New tax laws came into force since you made your last Will;
- You purchased properties overseas.
It is good practice to keep your Will up to date and we recommend you review your will every 5 years or so, in particular if your personal or financial circumstances have changed.
With regard to overseas assets, it is recommended to have one separate Will for each jurisdiction where you own assets to facilitate the administration of your estate. In some circumstances, one single English Will covering the whole of your estate can be a solution for instance to avoid overseas forced heirship rules (eg. in France) or just for the sake of keeping things simple.
If you own assets overseas and you do not have an English Will yet, we can handle the drafting of your English Will and foreign Will under one roof avoiding the need to appoint separate lawyers and hence minimising the risks of conflicts between your Wills. If after assessment of your personal circumstances, you decide to have one single English Will applying to all your assets (including overseas), our expertise in cross-border inheritance law will ensure that the wording of your Will will not create adverse consequences you did not plan for your death.
Too often we deal with cross-border probate matters when the deceased left an inadequate English Will creating further legal and costly issues such as:
-the Will created a trust which is not recognised overseas and has costly tax implications;
-the Will included inappropriate or unnecessary use of the provisions of EU Regulation 650/2012;
-the testator gave an overseas property to a charity, which complicated the administration of the estate;
-the drafting of the Will did not take account of overseas inheritance tax rules.
At B&M Law LLP, we specialise in cross-border inheritance planning and would be able to draft your Wills if you have assets in England & Wales, France, Spain and Italy. If you already have a Will and need it reviewed, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.