Do you own a unit in Noosa, a villa in Tuscany, or a ski-lodge in Japan, or hanker for such luxuries?
It is increasingly common for people to own assets in other states or other countries. This can create complications for their wills and estates.

If you own shares in listed companies, there is the possibility that the registered office is in another state. That does not cause a problem, but owning bank accounts or real estate in another state creates issues when it comes to administering your estate. Your executors will need to have your Victorian grant of probate resealed, or recognized, in the other state.

If you own an asset in another country, the situation becomes more complex. Complying with the laws in the other country in order to deal with the asset will invariably require payment of expenses incurred in that country. Should those expenses be paid from the proceeds of sale of the asset located overseas? Or, if the intention is that the asset not be sold but be passed to a particular beneficiary, how are the expenses incurred in dealing with the asset to be funded?

Some countries do not allow the freedom of testation which Australia allows, that is the freedom of a will-maker to do as he or she wishes in the will. Some countries require a certain percentage of the estate located in that country be gifted to certain people.

Many countries have inheritance taxes. In the USA these can be levied at both the state and federal levels. These can be payable on assets located in these countries even though the owner does not reside where the asset is located.

We usually recommend that, if you own assets located in another country, you should have one will dealing with those assets which is prepared in that country, and another will dealing with assets located outside that country made in Australia. You may need more than two wills. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the wills are co-ordinated and that the one made last in time does not revoke the other will.

Owning a villa in Tuscany might be an appealing prospect during your lifetime but a major headache for the executors and beneficiaries of your estate after your death.

For further information or advice, please contact:

Justin Hartnett
Principal
T 5225 5220
M 0419 571 840
E jhartnett@ha.legal