Owning a home in another country is not uncommon. It is a great way of getting to know another country, perhaps learn another language and is somewhere to go when you need time to relax. However, not all owners of overseas properties tell their solicitors about their holiday home abroad when they make a Will. There seems to be a presumption that beneficiaries will inherit such a property along with the rest of the deceased’s estate. Also sometimes a testator includes their overseas property in their Scottish Will without realising that they need a Will in the country where that property is located.
As a general rule in the European Union the inheritance laws of the country where your property is situated will apply. If you live in Scotland and your holiday home is in Greece or Italy it is governed by the law of Greece or Italy. In Scotland you have relative freedom to choose who will inherit which of your assets but that is not necessarily the case abroad. In many countries there are “forced heirship” rules which could mean that your property may pass to specified people regardless of your wishes and how it might affect your overall estate planning.
To try to simplify the administration of cross- border estates, the EU introduced a “choice of law” Directive which became effective in August 2015 and is known as “Brussels IV”.This means you can make a foreign Will saying that you want the law of your nationality to apply to your estate. So if you are Scottish and have a property in France you can still leave your French home according to Scottish law by making a Will in France and asking for this option. The essential point to note here is that whichever country’s law you want to apply to your property you need to make a local Will with a district lawyer that knows what is required.
If you have foreign assets and would like to discuss your Will or estate planning I would be happy to help. Please contact me Heather Warnock on 0141 552 3422 or by email email@example.com