If you own assets in multiple jurisdictions then it would be prudent to make sure that your estate planning is as thorough as possible to ensure that all of your assets can be dealt with as smoothly as possible upon your passing.
We are seeing an increasing number of clients who hold property in multiple states and jurisdictions, and thought it timely to provide a brief update on the estate planning avenues available to those who do in fact have assets in multiple locations.
You are welcome to peruse some of our many previous publications on wills and estate planning at your leisure to assist with your understanding of the information provided in this article:
Essentially, administering your estate can become a very complex matter should you have assets in multiple jurisdictions and it can become a costly exercise for your estate to be administered after your passing, which can significantly reduce the asset pool available for distribution amongst your beneficiaries.
Amendments were made to the Succession Act 1981 (the Act) in 2015 following Australia’s assent to the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973 which came into force on 10 March 2015. The Act now includes a definition for an ‘international will’ and allows wills which have been drafted in accordance with the Act to be recognised in all countries which are a party to the convention, including signatories such as Canada, France and Italy.
While it is the intention of the amendments to streamline formalities for wills and administration of multi-jurisdictional estates, it is somewhat hampered by the limited number of signatories and thus, the narrow application of it in countries which are not parties to the convention.
If a person holds assets only in countries who are parties to the convention, then it may be preferable to execute an international will.
For others however, it would perhaps be more prudent to have wills drafted and held in the jurisdiction where each asset is owned, and, amongst other things:
- Ensures that each will pertains to specific assets in that particular jurisdiction;
- Does not overlap any other will in respect of the assets it purports to deal with;
It is important to remember that despite the will-makers intentions, in some countries there are laws which prohibit the freedom to distribute assets as they wish, and local laws will override testamentary documents. Furthermore, when dealing with multi-jurisdictional assets it is important to note that death duties may be applicable in certain jurisdictions.
There is no one correct way to manage multi-jurisdictional property holdings and assets and the above information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances or situation.
Accordingly, if you hold assets in different states and countries, it is strongly recommended that you arrange to have an appointment with one of our experienced wills & estate planning lawyers to discuss your requirements today on 07 5563 8970.