You may be somebody who likes to diversify their risks and took care to ensure that all your asset eggs were not in one basket as you went through your life. As a base, you may have a certain amount of money in the Australian stock exchange and have a beach property in somewhere like Cairns. However, you may have been an avid traveller as well and have properties and other assets in far-flung countries. If you want to pass on all your worldly goods to your successors, why do you need to pay particular attention to those overseas assets?
Most people understand that they need to make a will when they get to a certain age, and this is a relatively straightforward process across Australia. A will that is composed in a particular state or territory is usually valid in all the others without any additions and modifications. Therefore, that beach home in Cairns will be included in the asset division after that fateful day. Just remember that the executor will have to get a grant of probate in these other states, and this may involve a re-certification of documentation in your home state.
There may be much more paperwork involved, however, when it comes to those asset allocations overseas. In this case, the documentation will need to conform with the laws that are specific to that country and, in particular, whether you were 'settled' there or an absentee.
Many countries have agreed to standardise the approach for those people who have cross-border assets and bank accounts. Nevertheless, many countries did not get involved in this legislation, and their domestic laws will be paramount.
Movable or Immovable?
For example, are the assets kept in this country classified as being movable? These could include shares in a domestic company or a bank account. Different rules may apply if the asset is not deemed to be movable, and this would definitely include a property of any kind.
Some people only consider investing in a country because of the benefits that they will enjoy. For example, an investment of a certain value may get residency—and sometimes even citizenship—status for the applicant. Your ability to bequeath your asset may, consequently, have something to do with the immigration laws of that country as well, and this is where it can get even more complex.
Your Legal Team
Make sure that your will adequately covers every eventuality. This may require the input of a wills lawyer who, in turn, may need to reach out to a counterpart in that foreign land.