Do you need an International Will? What happens if you inherit or hold international assets and you pass away?
Generally a Will is only good for assets held within the jurisdiction that it was made. This means sometimes there are complications in dealing with assets that are held overseas or are international assets when you pass away. Wills also have subtly different requirements to ensure their validity in each jurisdiction.
There are a few ways this can be addressed.
One of which is The Wills Act 1970 has been amended to adopt and give the “Convention providing a uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973” (Convention) the force of law in Western Australia.
The Convention provides that a Will that is made in accordance with articles 2 to 5 of the Convention is valid:-
- irrespective of where it is signed by the maker of the Will (Testator);
- the location of the assets;
- the domicile or residence of the Testator.
Further requirements are set out in Schedule 1 of the Wills Act 1970.
If the Testator makes a Will that complies with the requirements of the Convention then it becomes a recognised International Will. Each country that is a party to the Convention will recognise the Will as being an International Will and being a valid Will, making dealing with your assets in that jurisdiction an easier process for your Executor or Administrator.
It should be noted though that not all countries are a party to the Convention, and so an International Will may not work in all circumstances.
The idea of the Convention is to harmonise the laws on the validity of Wills in the various countries that are parties to the Convention and may be useful for Testators with assets in more than one of those countries. Whilst useful, the International Will should not be made without obtaining appropriate legal and financial advice on the suitability of the International Will taking into account your personal circumstances.
Should you have any queries regarding making an International Will, please contact BNT Legal to discuss your circumstances further.