Does a single will cover all my offshore assets?

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For more than 33 years Rod Cunich has been helping clients plan for their future by finding practical solutions to legal matters. When it comes to succession planning, business, corporate and commercial law and practice, he is a leader in his field.

Rod is a good listener and takes the time to know his clients on a personal level, earn their trust and work with them to achieve positive outcomes. It is through careful planning that he is able to effectively help clients attain a level of certainty and minimise risks. He holds social justice close to his heart.

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So the question is: if you have assets in other jurisdictions offshore, and assets here, should you have a separate will for each jurisdiction or one will?

There is an international treaty that many countries have signed up to that enables a single will to cover many countries. The will takes the form of the Australian standard will but it has a different regime around who witnesses it. It’s only relatively new; importantly, there are some large countries that haven’t yet signed the treaty – countries like America.

So, my advice to people is that until it becomes very commonly used, that you have a will dealing with assets in Australia – and the will says that this is only for assets in Australia – and if you have assets in another country, have a will drawn by somebody who draws it in accordance with those laws because the courts in those countries will approve that will – grant probate – much quicker than an international will.

So, at this stage I’d still recommend that.

We all probably have kids who have moved overseas. There are places where you’ve got to be careful, because places like Japan and America, for example, if a person is resident there and they die, they will be charged death duties on their assets.

Only their assets in Japan or America? No, all of their assets held worldwide. And, in Australia if they have a home that is Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exempt – because it’s a principal place of residence – but they’ve become a resident in the States their law doesn’t recognise that exemption. So they’ll be charged death duties in the full value of that property also.

So, there’s a planning thing that you might need to keep in mind given that our kids are very, very mobile.

The information in this article and video should be considered general in nature and legal advice should be sought. Rod can be contacted via his site, where you can learn much more, and also buy a copy of his book. 


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