Overseas connection - when executors are based overseas

You can appoint executors who are based overseas. You should consider, however, whether they will be the best placed people to deal with your estate if they are still abroad when you die. Sorting out the estate of someone who has died is a considerable responsibility and can be very time-consuming. If you have property and assets that are based in the UK, it could be more convenient if your executors (or at least one of them) are based in the UK as well. 

There is no requirement for all of your executors to apply for a grant of probate or to act at all. An executor can allow the other executor or executors to take on the administration, but reserve the right to take up their appointment as executor later if there are any problems. This is known as ‘power reserved’, and can be particularly useful if one or more executors lives overseas and does not want to, or is not able to, be involved in the day to day affairs of the estate administration. 

If an executor does not want to take on the role of your executor, they will need to sign a document called a renunciation of probate

Another reason that it may be more convenient for your executors to be based in the UK is so that they can be easily located if there is ever any question arising from the administration of the estate.

Witnesses based overseas

There is no rule to say that the witnesses to your will cannot be based overseas. But in practical terms, you may find it more convenient if they are based in the UK. You will need two independent adult witnesses, who need to sign your will after you have signed it and insert their name, address and occupation. Very occasionally a will’s validity may be disputed at a later date and if this happens, the witnesses may need to be contacted. Of course, there is nothing to stop them being tracked down if they live overseas, but if they are required to give evidence it is usually easier if they live in the UK.