Dealing with foreign Probate

Retiring  to a foreign country is becoming very common with people.  High living costs in the UK has made foreign countries seem so much more attractive.  People see all the amazing things like property costs, costs of goods and all year sunshine and forget the important things like changing wills or making a will specific for the country they are residing in.

For example a very close friend of mine lost her husband very recently and owns property in Cyprus. We have been informed that Cyprus laws state that even though she was married to her husband she has to give up 50% of her rights to her jointly owned property to her step son.

There are so many problems she will encounter in Cyprus but aslong as her step son plays nicely, she can continue to live in the property but if she chooses to sell he gets 50% on sale.

It is crucial to remember that a will made in the UK may not be valid abroad. This will depend on the terms and complexity of the will. For straight forward cases, the UK will is likely to be accepted. In some more complicated situations where minor beneficiaries or trusts are present, you may need to make a will in the country of residence. This will simplify the process and make it cheaper, but be aware that a new will made abroad may revoke your previous UK will.

You should also remember that moving abroad does not discharge any tax liability on property overseas under the UK law, unless you change your domicile of origin. Despite popular belief, changing residence does not automatically make you a “non-UK domiciled”. The result of this can be double taxation, which may leave you or your loved ones at a serious disadvantage, having to pay both domestic and foreign taxes on inheritance.

Iit is highly advisable that you take professional advice before moving abroad and with a local solicitor. In the long run, this will save you and your family from great stress and considerable financial losses.