Can you now just have a UK Will?

NOTE: This post is more than 12 months old, and the information contained within may no longer be accurate.

Whilst we deal principally with clients who are resident and domiciled in the UK, some of them have international assets, particularly in Europe, and have read in popular media the potential of now only having an English Will, as opposed to needing one in the country in which assets are owned. There has been significant debate on the matter, but at the time of writing it seems unclear whether it is sufficiently to simply draw up an English Will, and therefore individuals should seek tailored advice in the country they own any holiday properties to ensure an appropriate Will is drafted there.

The background to this issue is that Article 22 of Regulations (EU) No. 650/2012 would seem to give the ability for a British National for them elect their preference. However amongst legal professionals there seems to be contention as to whether the UK, which is not a signatory to the Regulation, can still be an appropriate clause in the Will.

Some legal professionals contend that even though the UK did not adopt the Regulation it does not prevent an English Will being drawn up and making use of the election.

Further factors may compound the complexity of this situation, for example, those that want to “pick and mix” jurisdictions, and want to make specific provisions to avoid inheritance tax in other jurisdictions that may not have a spouse exemption (where assets are passed between a married couple who are both UK domiciled without any inheritance tax) does not apply with respect to many European death duties.

Due to these complexities we will strongly recommend that an individual seeks tailored advice from an appropriately qualified Estate Planner in both England and also any other relevant jurisdictions. It does seem unlikely that having two Wills, other than the cost of potential complexity would be worse, in this situation, than having one Will, but individual circumstances may change this.

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26 Apr 2024

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