Estate Planning with Foreign Assets

Author: Heather Warnock
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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

Heather Warnock

About Heather Warnock

Heather joined Mitchells Roberton in March 2013 as a Financial Guardian Administrator having graduated with a first class honours degree in law from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2011 and thereafter having completed her Diploma in Legal Practice at Strathclyde University in 2012. She was taken on as a trainee of the firm and started on 2nd June 2014. Heather has now completed her traineeship and is staying with us as a qualified assistant working in the Private Client Department. She will be assisting with succession and trust issues, the administration of estates and the preparation of Wills and Powers of Attorney. Heather is consistently client focused and is skilful in dealing with clients in circumstances which are frequently emotionally charged.Currently Heather is studying for the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates-Scotland and has passed her first exam Wills and Executries – Law and Practice with Distinction. Heather who is originally from Northern Ireland loves going home to visit her family whenever she can. She enjoys live comedy and the theatre. She is an excellent cook and expert baker….most welcome skills for our office. Email:

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