Foreign Assets

If you own assets abroad, the laws of that country may dictate who inherits the asset(s) on your death. It is important to familiarise yourself with the position and consider whether or not you should deal with any foreign assets in your English will, or prepare a separate will.

In England and Wales the principle of testamentary freedom means that people can more or less leave their estate to whomever they choose. This is not the case in all countries, and forced heirship rules may apply to assets owned in many other European countries or countries governed by Sharia law.

The EU Succession Regulation (also known as Brussels IV) was introduced to unify succession laws across EU member states and applies to deaths after 17th August 2015. Although the UK has opted out of the provision, an election can now be made in the Will of a citizen of another EU member state that the UK law can apply to all their assets within the EU.

For a non-UK domiciled individual, inheritance tax would apply to any assets owned within the UK. If you are UK domiciled, inheritance tax would be payable on your worldwide assets although reliefs may be available to prevent tax being paid on the same assets in two countries. If you and your spouse or civil partner are domiciled in different jurisdictions, this can affect the spousal exemptions from inheritance tax which are available.

If you need advice on how these concepts apply to your situation, then our experienced team will be happy to assist.

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