To quote Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind – “death, taxes, and childbirth, there’s never a convenient time for any of them”.
When it comes to the Grim Reaper, if he comes for you whilst you are living in a foreign country, he is not bothered about whether you have organised your affairs or not. And few situations are messier than dealing with the fall-out from someone who is domiciled abroad and dies intestate.
For succession purposes, where a matter involves more than one legal system it is necessary to apply the conflict of laws rules that determine which law of succession applies. Where the rules of one jurisdiction conflict with the rules of another jurisdiction, it is necessary to determine which jurisdiction can decide the matter.
Fortunately, since 17 August 2015, the rules surrounding dying intestate within the European Union have been simplified. If someone dies in an EU Member State without a Will, the rules of intestacy will be the rules of the country in which they were habitually resident as at the date of their death.
If you have property in the UK and are likely to acquire assets in the country you move to or reside in, it is imperative they you understand the importance of having a valid Will in place, not only in the UK but in the jurisdiction they are moving to or reside in.
Dying intestate in the UK causes complications enough. For the survivors of expats who die without a Will, the resulting administrative and financial problems can be a nightmare – and one that is completely avoidable.
11 December 2019
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