Why you must review your will as an expat.


Once a client has executed their will, they often ask when it should be reviewed.  The most common answers to these are:

Once every few years (say every 3, 5 or 10 years, depending on circumstances) and every time there is an important life event (for example marriage, divorce, death, birth).

When reviewing your will, it is wise to also review any lifetime arrangements and/or gifts you wish to make or have made.


Q) When should you set up a Will?
A)  As soon as you are over 18 and own any assets

Q) Does my home country Will cover my Global assets?
A)  No, whilst it could refer to Global assets, it is critical to have a legal document in every jurisdiction where you own any assets (including Bank accounts). Without the correct and clear instruction in place, you are at risk of delaying the handing over of your assets, or at worst losing them.  

So what is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that communicates a person's final wishes, as pertaining to possessions and dependents. A person's Last Will and Testament will outline what to do with possessions, such as custody of dependents and accounts and interests management. It is written while a person is alive and executed once they've passed away.  A still-living person is named as the executor of the estate, they are the person responsible for administering the estate and are usually supervised by the probate office to ensure that what is specified in the Will is carried out. A Will needs to be legally registered in each jurisdiction where assets are owned.

Q) What is the main difference between a Will and Trust?
A) One main difference between a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will is a document that directs who will receive your assets-property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes.

Q) Is a trust better than a will?
A) There are some notable differences between a Will and a Trust. Although the two terms are often confused, wills and trusts are really very different in a few important ways. Which suits you better might come down to your personal situation and concerns and you should take into account that not all countries recognise a trust. Therefore, you may not be able to include assets that are located in different countries.

Wills become a matter of public record when they're submitted to the court for probate. The terms of living trusts remain private.

A Will can cover any property that is only in your name when you die. It does not cover property held in joint tenancy or in a trust. A trust, on the other hand, covers only property that has been transferred to the trust. In order for property to be included in a trust, it must be put in the name of the trust.

Under some country’s Trust law, a trust passes outside of probate, so a court does not need to oversee the process, which can save time and money. Unlike a Will, which becomes part of the public record, a Trust can remain private.

Wills and Trusts each have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, a will allows you to name a guardian for children and to specify funeral arrangements, while a trust does not. On the other hand, a trust can be used to plan for disability or to provide savings on taxes.
Brexit, what now?

EU Succession Regulation will change, also known as Brussels will more than likely make significant changes to which laws apply to your estate going forward, if you are either resident in an EU country or you have assets there. It will be very easy for unware individuals to accidentally create a huge tax bill in their estate.

If you have any assets of any type (moveable assets or real estate) in an EU country, you should review your Will or Wills in these Jurisdictions sooner rather than later.

    “It is said, that Death Duties-Inheritance tax is a Voluntary Tax!  The only people who pay this, are the ones that DON’T plan to reduce or avoid it”

Death duties

Currently more than 30 countries impose taxes on death.

Many jurisdictions have far-reaching laws that give them tax rights when people inherit assets from another country or where the deceased or the heirs are resident, domiciled or hold nationality in another jurisdiction.

Frequently, two or more countries may apply death tax on the same asset.

Cross-border inheritance tax problems do not just affect individuals either; businesses can often face transfer difficulties upon the death of their owners.

You work Hard to build your assets

Don’t waste your efforts, by not planning to secure them