Domicile – The Will you make in England and Wales may not apply to property you own elsewhere in the world.
The issue is decided on by reference to “Domicile” which is NOT the same as citizenship.
In England & Wales, we have a concept of “testamentary freedom” which means that we can dispose of our property to whom we like – there are limits on this, but that is the principle.
So for example, if you wanted to leave your property to your partner or spouse and exclude your children, you can do so by making a suitable provision in your Will.
That is not always the case in other countries – In Spain, for example, your children, including estranged children and children from previous relationships could inherit your property on your death ahead of your spouse, regardless of your wishes.
If a person has died with a Will but with property in more than one country – how does the Will affect the distribution of property – after all the law varies from country to country. As I said, this is decided by the principle of Domicile and is too complicated to set out here, in full.
If you own property abroad, or if you are a foreign citizen, you need to make this clear to your Wills Draftsman when giving instructions as this will affect the provisions.
However to give you some idea of what this means:-
Peter Ustinov made an English Will – thirty years before he died. At the time, he was getting divorced and he moved to another country – Switzerland. The judges in Switzerland decided that his Will was ineffective and that he had died intestate. Consequently his property in that country was disposed of in accordance with Swiss law and went to his third wife, and the children from his second marriage got nothing.
BTW – have you heard about the homeless brothers who inheritied 100 million Euros?
Brothers Zsolt and Geza Peladi were so poor they lived in a cave outside Budapest, Hungary, and sold scrap they found on the street for pennies. Now both of them and a sister who lives in America inherited their grandmother’s massive fortune after a life of poverty. “We knew our mother came from a wealthy family but she was a difficult person and had severed ties with them, then later abandoned us and we lost touch with her and our father until she eventually died.”