Wills for British Ex-Pats

Who should make an expat UK will?

Around 5.5 million Brits live abroad, that’s almost 10% of the population.  Many of you own property in the UK and also abroad.  Because of the complex web of laws that surround making wills and the fact there is no “international will” you should make a will in every jurisdiction you own assets.  This will make sure that your wishes are implemented when you die to the extent that the laws in the jurisdictions where you hold property.

Our wills are designed for assets in England and Wales.  If you live or have assets in a different jurisdiction you should always take advice from an experienced lawyer with expertise in writing wills.

How can an expat make a UK will?

You can make a will in any country or expat community in the world using makeawillonline.co.uk once you have taken advice from a local expert.  This guide will discuss the different legal systems and challenges that you may encounter, tell you where to find a local expert in wills and probate talk about the formalities that are required to complete a will for your assets in England and Wales, and provide some cautionary tales for what can happen if you do not have the best legal advice before completing your will.

Always speak with a legal expert in the jurisdiction where you hold property and make a second will wherever necessary.  Never assume that the wishes in your UK will are going to be implemented in another jurisdiction.

What do I need to do to make a will as an expat?

If you need to make a will for your assets in England and Wales you can make a will using our system.  The first thing our wills do is revoke previous wills, so ensure that you check with your local advisor to see whether you have to complete your foreign will after your UK will. You want to avoid having to go through the signing process twice (at best) or having one or both wills called into question (at worst).  Please do make sure with your local advisor to ensure that you do not cause any procedural issues.

When completing a will on makeawillonline.co.uk as an expat you should ensure that all spellings are “romanicised” so there are no special characters (e.g. Cyrillic, Kanji, Katakana, Arabic, or accents) in the people or places named.

You can gift property in England and Wales using our system.  If you own property abroad you should not gift this unless you have confirmation from a local expert that this will be okay.

How to make a UK expat will and protect your assets

If you are a British national who lives outside the UK, you need to be especially careful with estate planning. To avoid dual-taxation issues and ensure those who matter to you are protected, there are some important steps you should take when writing a will.

  1. Consult a local expert in the country where you live.

    They will help you understand any applicable local laws and customs around will-writing.

  2. Consult an expert in UK estate planning if you have a larger estate

    The distinction between residency and domicile can make a large difference to your inheritance tax liability in the United Kingdom.

  3. If appropriate, make a local will for your assets in the country in which you live

    An expert in local law will be able to help with this. In some countries, there is no option to make your own will and you need to consult a legal professional.

  4. If appropriate, make a UK will for your assets in the United Kingdom

    After consulting the appropriate authorities on your personal situation, make a UK will for your UK assets. In England and Wales, you can make a will online but you must ensure it is valid.

  5. Execute and store the wills according to the laws of each jurisdiction

    It is essential that your documents are executed according to local law. In England and Wales, this includes signing and dating the document along with two independent witnesses.

For your peace of mind

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