In the 21st century even the average person is likely to travel outside the United States for business, pleasure, or both. In fact, it is becoming more and more common for the average person to own property in a foreign country as well given the relatively low cost of purchasing property in many other countries and the ease of traveling across borders. If you are among those who own property in another country you may not have considered the implications foreign property ownership has on your estate plan. In fact, if you own property in a foreign country you may need an International Will in your estate plan.
Upon your death, all of your assets need to be legally transferred to the intended beneficiaries. For assets located in the U.S. a Last Will and Testament will suffice; however, your U.S. Will is likely insufficient for transferring property located outside of the U.S. because many foreign countries will not honor a Will created in the U.S. Simply executing two Wills isn’t the answer either because you can unintentionally revoke one of the Wills by creating the other one. The answer is often found in the execution of an International Will.
In an effort to resolve the problems faced by people who own property in more than one country, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) held the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will back in 1973. The purpose of the convention was to create guidelines to be used to determine when a Last Will and Testament may be considered an “international” Will. The guidelines agreed upon are as follows:
• The will must be signed in the presence of and signed by two witnesses and an authorized person (in the , the only authorized persons are attorneys—a notary is not sufficient);
• All signatures must be at the end of the will;
• If the will is more than one page, each page must be numbered and the testator must sign each page;
• If the testator is unable to sign the will, the reason shall be noted on the will;
• A certificate must be attached signed by an authorized person, attesting that the requirements and procedures for drafting and execution of an international will have been satisfied.
If you own property outside of the U.S., be sure to consult with your Illinois estate planning attorney to determine if an International Will is right for your estate plan. Contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.