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The need to plan for your long-term future is tied in to the responsibility of having a family. Planning is vital to keep your affairs well-tended and ordered. Sometimes, there comes a time for some people when they can take the unpredictability of the UK weather no more, decide to up-sticks and move abroad.

Moving abroad to a new country means that you will be living under new laws, rules and regulations. If you have already made a will or planned your inheritance in the UK, it won’t necessarily cover your assets located in your new country of residence.

It is therefore imperative for ex-pats to take wills advice both in the UK and in the country of their new locality. The precise legal position of the assets will depend on the country in question, which will each have their own laws, making it a complicated area. For example, in France, if you share a house with your partner and you pass away, the house will automatically be left to any children from that relationship and the surviving partner will be unable to sell the property without the children’s permission.

It is highly advisable to make a will in both locations: the country of your residence and the UK. In the will made in the UK, it is a good idea to exclude any foreign property and assets, which you can cover in a separate local will. Once you have sought professional advice locally to cover your assets abroad, you can then be confident that your full wishes will be carried out. It is important to ensure that each will specifically states it applies only to assets located in that country, to avoid situations where one will inadvertently revokes the other.

Inheritance Tax for Ex-Pats

Ex-pats should also be aware that UK inheritance tax will apply to their worldwide assets, so long as they remain domiciled in the UK. It is possible to take on a ‘domicile of choice’ if they intend to remain in the new country permanently, however, evidencing this intention can be very difficult and it is not possible to obtain a ruling from HMRC on an individual’s domicile during their lifetime. Proving you live abroad and have no intention of returning to the UK, may include; relinquishing your passport, closing all UK bank accounts, buying a property and selling all your UK based property.

Lifetime tax planning options, including utilising the annual exemption, making gifts out of excess income, and making potentially exempt transfers, should be considered.

In many cases expats will have property, possessions, investments and bank accounts in different countries and this can make things complicated. The key advice for ex-pats from a legal perspective is to plan ahead and take professional advice locally in the country they are domiciled in.

The only way to ensure your assets go to the people of your choice, is to plan appropriately. If you need to talk to an expert in the field of inheritance planning and making wills, then give our specialist team at Gorvins a call on 0161 930 5151 (standard landline number) or fill in our online form and we will get back to you at a more convenient time.