It is common for Singaporeans to include overseas assets in their Wills. Even if you do not have any asset overseas now, you may acquire such assets in the future. However, including overseas assets in your Will does not mean that the foreign jurisdiction will automatically recognize your Will by the time you pass on. How then do you deal with overseas assets?
1. Include the Overseas Assets in Your Will in Singapore
For assets located in Singapore, your executor can apply for a grant of probate in Singapore to allow him/ her to administer your Singapore-based assets after your death.
As for assets located overseas, the recognition of the Will in the overseas jurisdiction depends on the foreign Court’s discretion and their laws.
Generally, most common law jurisdictions will recognize a valid Will in Singapore, subject to the following:
1. Whether the foreign jurisdiction accepts that the Will in Singapore is formally valid.
2. Whether the contents of the Will run contrary to the laws of the foreign country. For instance, if the foreign country has laws and rules relating to inheritance that cannot be superseded by a Will, the foreign jurisdiction may decline to acknowledge the validity of the Will.
2. Executing a Will in Compliance with the Laws of the Foreign Jurisdiction
It may be so complicated to have overseas assets covered in your Will in Singapore that you may be better off having another Will to specifically cover overseas assets.
If you are considering this option, you should consult a lawyer in the foreign jurisdiction in relation to the local laws on succession. You should also find out if there is any impact on the local laws on the validity of your Will.
3. International Will
You may also draw up an International Will, in according with the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will. The convention seeks to simplify the required proof of formalities for Wills which have international characteristics. An international Will is valid and recognized if:
1. It meets certain standards.
2. It is certified as an international Wil
3. It is registered with the relevant authorities.
An international Will is recognized in all jurisdictions which have signed the Convention on International Wills or included the agreement in their own laws.
Some countries which have acceded to the convention include:
1. United States of America.
2. United Kingdom.
17. Sierra Leone.
While an international Will seems to solve the problem of overseas jurisdictions have different laws on succession, the convention does not specify the content of the Will. Different countries may have different laws on what can and what cannot be included in a Will. Hence, an international Will may be formal and valid in the above countries, but its contents may still be a problem. Hence, it may still be wise to consult a lawyer in the jurisdiction where you hold overseas assets in.
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