Do You Need A Will In Another Country?

If you own assets that are located abroad, in Europe for example, then you may be wondering if you need to take any precautions with regards to your will. You may be asking yourself if a will created in your home country would be enough, or if you should create one in the countries where your assets are located to avoid complications. 

Below, we detail some reasons as to why making a second will abroad can benefit you in the long run, as well as the potential dangers of not doing so.

According to E&G Solicitors in Spain, not having a Will in another country can cause a great deal of uncertainty.

In Spain, in the absence of a will, any children and a spouse are the legal beneficiaries. Because of this, depending upon where you are habitually resident immediately before you die, you may only have one third of your estate to do with as you please if you have no Will from either Spain or the UK.

Avoiding uncertainty

It is becoming increasingly commonplace for those who have physical assets in European countries to create a wills there. One reason for doing so is ensuring, with absolute certainty, that your wishes will be carried out to the letter following your death.

By signing a will before a Notary in the country where your assets are located, the original will be retained by the Notary themselves. In the event of your death, the Notary, coordinating with your beneficiaries, will be completely clear as to the wishes detailed in your will. 

The law of last residence

Within European countries, EU law states that upon an individual’s death, the inheritance will be handled with respect to the laws of the last country of residence. For example, if you owned an estate in France and lived there until you passed away, French law would, by default, be applied, even if you had an English will that stipulated otherwise.


EU law does allow you the option to choose to apply the laws of your own nationality, so it is worth knowing that this option is available to you should you wish it. Nevertheless, it is very important that you create a second will to specify this choice in the clearest terms possible.

In some countries, there are some exceptions to the law of last residence so it is worth doing extra research on the law surrounding wills in your country of interest. 

What are the dangers of not creating a second will?

If you do not make it explicitly clear what your intentions are, regarding your overseas worldly assets, you risk uncertainty and potential legal incompetence dragging out the process. Ineptitude on the part of the law can bring potential headache to your beneficiaries, making what should be a worry-free time into a legal nightmare. 

Creating a will in a second country cannot completely remove risk, but it does help to mitigate it and bring you peace of mind, knowing that you have laid out your expectations in clear terms. 

Does an English will override a European one?

Most countries in Europe will recognise the jurisdiction of another, meaning that if you specify in your English will your wishes regarding your assets abroad, then this will be recognised.

If you own assets abroad, then it is good practice to create wills in the countries where you hold these assets, ensuring that your wishes are observed to the letter following your death. By doing so, you avoid potential legal incompetence, as well as miscommunication surrounding your intentions.

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