Overseas connection - when the beneficiaries are based overseas

If you own foreign property or assets, it is advisable to obtain specialist legal advice before making your will as you may need a co-ordinated strategy to ensure the rules in the countries concerned have been taken into account.  

Leaving money or property in your will to people who live abroad is not a problem in itself. In fact, it is becoming a more frequent occurrence with increased travel and marriages or civil partnerships of people from different parts of the world. 

If you do want to leave a gift to someone who is based overseas, your will should be drafted in exactly the same way as if the beneficiary lives in the UK. It is important to give your executors the best chance of being able to locate the beneficiary after your death. This applies to all beneficiaries regardless of where they live, but is particularly important in relation to overseas beneficiaries as their identity may be less obvious to your executors. Make sure you include, if possible, an up to date address for the beneficiary (including the country if they are abroad), together with a description (‘my niece’, ‘my friend’ etc) to help your executors identify exactly who should receive the gift.

When executors distribute money from an estate to beneficiaries (whether they live in the UK or are based abroad), they need to ensure they do not distribute any assets to a beneficiary who is bankrupt as the funds may need to go towards their debts under the bankruptcy. For a beneficiary who lives in the UK, a bankruptcy search of the Land Charges Register will reveal any bankruptcy orders made in England and Wales but not any made overseas. So if a beneficiary is based overseas, the executors may need to take legal advice from a professional in the relevant country regarding bankrupt beneficiaries.