By Stuart McLuckie
If you are not resident in the UK but have assets in the UK such as property or shares in a UK company owned personally, putting a UK Will in place instead of relying on a foreign Will could make administering your estate more straightforward and less costly in the long run.
Increase in personal property ownership
Following the tax changes over the last few years on UK residential properties, there has been a mass de-enveloping of UK residential properties held in trusts and offshore companies, a significant proportion of which are now held in individual names.
If you have decided to transfer ownership of UK property into your own name, It may be preferable and efficient to have a UK Will in place to deal with the devolution of the property upon your death.
Using a non-UK Will to dispose of UK assets
Attempting to use a foreign law Will to dispose of property or other assets located in the UK can create difficulties, such as:
Is the foreign Will valid under the foreign law in which it has been drafted?
For the foreign Will to be valid under English law, it needs to be valid under the laws of the country for which it was drafted. This often requires the opinion of a lawyer qualified in that country, which will delay the estate administration process and incur additional cost.
Does the foreign Will effectively dispose of the assets situated in the UK?
Lawyers in both the UK and the foreign jurisdiction will need to consider how the two legal systems interact and determine whether it will be the foreign law or UK law that determines the succession of the UK property.
Has the foreign Will accidently revoked any previously made UK Wills or vice versa?
This can be easily avoided when drafting the UK Will.
The general rule is that the succession of moveable property situated in the UK will be subject to the law of the deceased’s domicile, whereas the succession of immoveable property in the UK will be subject to the law where the property is situated.
For instance, a house in London will be subject to English laws, whereas shares in an English incorporated private limited company will be subject to the laws of the deceased’s domicile.
This is a general rule and there are variations to this depending on the particular jurisdictions in question.
UK Inheritance Tax
Irrespective of where you may be domiciled or resident, if you own property situated in the UK in your own name at the date of your death, it may be that UK Inheritance Tax is payable on your estate.
As part of the UK Will drafting process, an Executor will need to be appointed in the Will to deal with the UK assets on your death. Although they do not need to be located in the UK, this will inevitably make things easier.
How can we help?
ZEDRA’s Estate Planning team in the UK is ideally placed to assist with drafting UK Wills for non-UK residents and to act as Executor in the UK and deal with the administration of the UK estate when the time arises. Our global reach also means we have experts on hand in key countries worldwide to advise you on your international affairs. Contact Stuart McLuckie or Sue Wakefield to discuss your personal circumstances and find out how we can help you.