Thanks in large part to technological and scientific advances over the last century, international borders are evaporating and the world is become smaller. Where it was once uncommon to travel abroad with any great frequencies, it is now something the average person can do. It has also become more common to own property in more than one country. Owning property in a foreign jurisdiction can make estate planning a bit more complicated. For example, if you own property overseas do you need an International Will?
Like many people, you may not even be aware that there is such a thing as an “International Will.” In response to the issues raised when people own property in more than one country, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) held the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will in Washington D.C. back in 1973. The purpose of the convention was to create guidelines to be used to determine when a Last Will and Testament may be considered an “international” Will. The guidelines agreed upon are as follows:
• The will must be signed in the presence of and signed by two witnesses and an authorized person (in the , the only authorized persons are attorneys—a notary is not sufficient);
• All signatures must be at the end of the will;
• If the will is more than one page, each page must be numbered and the testator must sign each page;
• If the testator is unable to sign the will, the reason shall be noted on the will;
• A certificate must be attached signed by an authorized person, attesting that the requirements and procedures for drafting and execution of an international will have been satisfied.
Executing an International Will dramatically decreases the odds of running into several common issues after death that occur without an International Will. Prior to the creation of the International Will concept, people would routinely execute separate Wills in each country in which they owned property or count on their American Will to cover all property. Executing separate Wills can result in unintentionally revoking one of the Wills whereas relying on a Will executed in the U.S. is problematic becomes many foreign countries won’t honor the terms of a U.S. Will. Executing an International Will alleviates both of these common problems.
If you have additional questions or concerns about how to handle property you own in a foreign jurisdiction in your estate plan, or how to create an International Will, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.