Foreign based assets – concurrent or international Will?

It is not uncommon for people in Singapore to have assets located overseas.

You have foreign born persons who move to Singapore but keep assets overseas. You also have Singaporeans who are born in Singapore but studied overseas, have business overseas or invest overseas. Many of these people maintain overseas bank accounts or own overseas real estate.

Can you do just a Will in Singapore to cover all of your world-wide assets including overseas assets?  Yes. Such a Will may be all that is needed.

However, there is an alternative. You can also make concurrent Wills. One in Singapore and another one in separate country.

A Singaporean ‘International’ Will

Everyday in Singapore lawyers are doing Wills that state:

“I give my property movable and immovable of whatever nature and wherever situated to my Trustees upon trust to stand possessed of said property (“my estate”)….”

This means the Will maker is giving all his/her assets (including real estate) to Trustees to hold in trust regardless of where the assets are.

Such a Will is straight forward. It may be all that is needed if the overseas assets are not significant.

In some countries a Grant of Probate is not needed for small estates before the assets can be dealt with.

However, if your assets overseas are substantial this may not work.

Need to consider tax and other issues where your overseas assets are

It is possible that a Singapore Will dealing with assets ‘wherever situated’ may be accepted by other countries where these assets are located.

However, estate duty, death duty and capital gains tax may apply in some countries. A person with substantial overseas assets may wish  to seek advice from an overseas estate planning specialist.

Estate planning doesn’t come cheap. If you have an expensive properly planned overseas Will for your overseas assets don’t have it all undone by a Singapore ‘International’ Will.

A typical Singaporean Will 

In Singapore most Wills that are made here will say that you:

HEREBY REVOKE all former wills made by me and DECLARE this to be my last will”.

Such a Will it revokes ALL earlier Wills including any overseas Will that have been made taking into account the tax regime where those assets are.

Concurrent Wills 

A concurrent Will may be a better solution for someone with substantial assets in more than one country.

In essence, your Singapore concurrent Will should deal only with your Singaporean assets and revoke only previous Wills made for your Singaporean assets.

By not revoking ALL Wills your overseas Will can remain in place and undisturbed.

Re-sealing of Probate 

If you make only a Singapore Will covering all of your assets worldwide then application for Probate must be made here first.

After Probate is granted the grant of probate can then be “re-sealed” in other countries.

‘Re-sealing’ basically means have the court in another country apply its seal to the original grant. Hence ‘re-sealing’.

Problems with re-sealing

Sometimes re-sealing the probate becomes problematic.

The courts in the second country may be unfamiliar with the first country’s laws and procedures.

This could lead to delay in the re-sealing of the Probate in the second country.

Advantage of concurrent Wills 

With concurrent Wills application for probate can be commenced separately in each country where a Will has been made.

There is no need to wait for Probate to be granted in one country before before re-sealing in another.

With concurrent Wills executors can apply for Probate at the same time in each country where there is a concurrent Will.

If will maker has dependents or beneficiaries in more than one country not having to wait may be critical.

At EzWills you have the option of making a concurrent Will or an ‘international’ Will. You decide which best suits you.

If you are someone who has worked in Singapore and now live overseas you can make a concurrent Will in Singapore with EzWills without revoking any Will you may have made in your current country of residence.

 

16 June 2019

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