Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Overseas assets and estate planning

Where a will maker has assets both in Australia and overseas, there are a number of specific estate planning steps that should be adopted.

In summary, these include:
  1. It is generally preferable to commence the estate planning process in the jurisdiction that the will maker is currently living. 

  2. The completed estate planning documents should be signed in the normal way and then provided to a specialist adviser in any other jurisdiction where substantial assets are held. 

  3. While initially the will first prepared should apply to all assets worldwide, generally when documentation is implemented in other jurisdictions, each will should be amended so as to only apply to assets in the relevant jurisdiction. 

  4. Wherever possible, the signing and witnessing procedure for the jurisdiction to which the will applies should be followed. Alternatively, it will generally be permissible for the will to be signed and witnessed in accordance with the laws of the country where the will maker signs the document and still be valid worldwide. 

The above approach ultimately ensures that the client has:
  1. appropriate estate planning documents for each Country in which they retain wealth; and

  2. received the necessary succession and tax advice for each asset in each Country.

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