The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that 784,900 British citizens live in the EU, many of whom own property in their country of choice. A frequently neglected but essential consideration is that of making a will that incorporates your foreign assets. Most people intend what remains of their estate when they die to be inherited by their immediate family. However, whilst the intention to make a will is often in the mind, actually doing so may lag behind.
It is particularly important for British nationals who have relocated to Europe to think very carefully about drafting a will that allows them the testimony freedom of the laws of England and Wales as if they die intestate in a European Union country their estate will fall under the laws of succession of the country in which they lived. Our expert inheritance lawyers point out, most countries in the EU have succession laws under forced heirship, meaning that very strict rules on how an estate is divided. The laws of inheritance follow a strict order and only relatives can inherit. An unmarried partner, regardless of how long the relationship lasted, will not be considered at all.
In France, Italy, Spain and Portugal the spouse, children and other close relatives receive a defined percentage of the estate that cannot be overridden; with children often receiving a greater proportion of the estate than the remaining spouse.
Gonzalo Butori, a partner, commented "in order to avoid getting caught by the laws of succession in the country to which you have relocated, it is strongly advised that you commission two wills one in the country in which you reside stating that your estate is to be dealt with under the laws of succession of England & Wales in accordance with your English will." Gonzalo further pointed out "this will not only deliver absolute clarity over how you wish your estate to be divided amongst your beneficiaries but will also considerably assist your executors to administer your estate overseas without unnecessary costly time-consuming procedures by removing a part of the administrative procedures from the executors' shoulders and enabling your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance far sooner."
Our inheritance lawyers in all our offices are skilled in managing and sheltering the overseas estates of British nationals in different jurisdictions and have the advantage of not only being multi-jurisdictional but multi-lingual and can speak to you in your own language as well as providing a cast iron English will.
Your will must be kept up-to-date in clear terms so that a former spouse will not be able to benefit due to an oversight whereby they remain a beneficiary inadvertently due to an oversight. Our highly capable lawyers have strategies that prevent an estranged relate mounting a challenge to your will on the basis that they were omitted in error. It is recommended that a token bequest is incorporated in your will to prevent the suggestion of omission.
Gonzalo Butori has acted in a wide range of international and domestic commercial disputes. He has experience dealing with complex, high-value cross-border litigation.
In addition to being admitted to practice in England & Wales as a Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL), Gonzalo is admitted to practice as an Abogado, a Spanish-qualified lawyer in Spain, as well as Avvocato Stabilito in Italy
Gonzalo is recognised for his pragmatic approach and solution-based strategies as well as his robust capacity when pursuing his clients' best interests. He has assisted in a number of cross-border transactions involving various EU jurisdictions and achieved successful results. He also specialises in the conflict of laws and jurisdiction.
Gonzalo regularly advises international clients in connection with family and inheritance-related cross-border matters. Throughout his experience, he has dealt with high-value and complex matters both contested and non-contested which have given him valuable exposure and experience, including assisting clients with the setting up of trusts.
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.