Why the Location of Your Assets Could Prove Complex When It Comes to Drawing up a Will

Posted on: 10 October 2017

Most people understand how important it is to get a will drawn up before they die, so that their loved ones will receive what is due to them without any problem. However, as time goes by it's easy to put this off as the thought of creating a will is, after all, not very pleasant. Yet when you do get down to it, you must pay attention to detail, especially if you have a relatively complex asset portfolio. If your estate extends beyond the Australian shores, what do you need to think about before you sign the documents?

Domestic Assets

When it comes to assets that are domestic, any will that's written up in a particular state or territory will be recognised in all of the others as it is. So, if you have a holiday home in one state then all the details surrounding its transfer to one of your successors will be recognised everywhere else. However, the executor may have to enable a specific process to create what is known as a "grant of probate" in the other state. The grant established in the primary state of residence will need to be resealed or recertified.

Overseas Assets

The situation can be quite a lot more complex when assets are held overseas, however. Many people are choosing to diversify their estates and will buy property in overseas territories, or hold money in offshore accounts. When this happens, you have to be aware of how the laws of that country may come into play when it comes to settling a will.

Simple or Complex?

Many countries are part of the Hague Convention, which recognises and standardises how wills, assets and bank accounts are handled. You may, however, have assets in a country that is not part of this Convention and will need to refer to the laws of that land instead.

Many countries will want to know whether the assets in question are "movable" or not. This usually refers to funds that are held in a bank account or shares in a domestic company, but a house is not generally considered in the same light. Another complication may arise if you have dual citizenship in the other country.

Making Sure It Is Right

Drafting a will in these circumstances can be tricky and it's important to get proper legal help before going ahead. After all, you don't want to add unnecessary complications for beneficiaries or successors when it's time to sort your will out.