Planning for your future, retirement planning, seeking financial advice- all these points are regularly mooted when discussing the finances of expatriates. The common goal they all aspire to help you reach is security, security for yourself, but more importantly security for your family and loved ones.
While the above topics are certainly vital components in the engine that drives your post-work years, there is another, perhaps more important, topic of consideration when dealing with leaving a legacy of security- writing a will.
However, recent reports have suggested that many people neglect writing a will, often until it is too late.
Writing a will is one thing if you are living in your native country, but if you’re living abroad as an expat then writing a will throws up new factors to consider.
This can all be placed under the title of succession planning. Succession planning is a time-honoured system that has not really changed in its aims over the years- you plan to keep your wealth where it belongs- in the hands of your family.
A will is the most vital aspect of this, as it ensures your money goes to exactly the people who deserve it. Without a will, a whole manner of gold-diggers and charlatans could crawl out and attempt to lay claim to your money.
With such importance contained within the document, a will should be made with the utmost of care and detail. As an expat, you’ll have to be even more thorough than your onshore counterparts.
There are many problems that could arise when dealing with an international estate. First and foremost is that the will itself will be recognised in the country where the assets lie. In some cases people have been known to create different will for the different jurisdictions where they have ties. Of course, different countries and have very different laws and regulations. There are also other factors to consider, for example who will administer the will once you have passed away?
For instance, common law countries such as the UK require a will to be signed by a testator and also be seen by two witnesses. However, in countries with civil law (other parts of Europe) wills must be written by hand or be drafted by a notary.