It is becoming more common for Australians to acquire assets overseas and for new Australians to keep assets they acquire before coming to Australia.
If you have assets in Australia, then you need to have a valid Australian will to ensure those assets are left to your desired beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.
But what happens to those overseas assets? Are they covered by your Australian will? Or vice versa, are your Australian assets covered by your foreign will?
Probably not – different countries have different rules for the formalities of making a will and for the formalities of bequeathing assets.
As a result, in 1973, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law formulated the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will (“the Convention”). In March 2015 the Australian Government acceded to the Convention.
So an International Will, will now work in Australia and overseas. However, there are some very strict requirements for an International will to be legal. We strongly suggest you talk to your legal adviser about whether you need an International Will.
An International Will, will only be recognised in other countries that have also adopted the Convention.
Some matters are not covered by the Convention, such as the capacity of the testator, revocation of the will and witness; so legal advice is required.
It may also be prudent to prepare a Will in the country where your assets are located to ensure those assets are dealt with according to the law, customs and systems of that country.