Families are becoming increasingly complex with second and third marriages introducing step-siblings and half-siblings and a whole host of inter-connected relatives that would have been unheard a few decades ago. Families are multifaceted not only by more than one marriage but also by marriages that cross cultures and borders. Unfortunately such families do not always live in harmony. Cases such as that currently being heard in the London, involving two step-sisters, who clearly have no workable relationship; their respective parents, John and Ann Scarle, who regrettably, both died unexpectedly from hyperthermia. The couple also died intestate and the ensuing legal fight which hinges on who died first, is driven by the fact that the sisters are not prepared to share their respective parents' inheritance, each wanting the entire estate for themselves.

Few parents like to think that their children would squabble over their inheritance but in a fractured family the reality of animosity has to be faced and the most reliable way to ensure that your estate is delivered to the individuals you intend to benefit, especially in the case of shared assets overseas, is to draw up watertight wills with the aid of a cross-border lawyer. Your will needs to be so robust that no relative, no matter how problematical they are, would even think of mounting a challenge to your wishes. Unless international affairs are kept in good order the simplest of things, such as closing a foreign bank account can prove to be problematic and hold up procedures as well as adding to the costs for your beneficiaries.

The probate and wills team at Giambrone has extensive experience in dealing with complex contentious cross-border inheritance matters and has comprehensive expertise with regard to the innumerable issues that can arise from contested wills. The laws of succession can be very different from country to country and given the significant differences between the way an estate can be disposed of, it is important to be crystal clear to avoid confusion or worst still a challenge to the way your estate is divided. The lawyers in the Giambrone team can offer meticulous planning, with consideration given to every possible eventuality, to ensure that not only are your assets properly protected but that they are available to the people you intend to receive them when the time comes.

Giambrone has offices in Spain, Italy, Germany and Tunisia and can advise in a wide range of jurisdictions under one roof which is a distinct advantage, both in costs and in interpreting the clarity of your intentions in the global environment. Once the terms of the will have been drafted to your satisfaction you will then have to turn your attention to your choice of executors and guardians, which is not always an easy task. Many people appoint their professional advisors to avoid any contention within the family, also it can be easier for a third party un-associated with the family to administer and deal with the terms of the will.

If you die intestate your entire estate will be disposed of under the laws of succession in the country in which you resided prior to death.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.