Proprosed new UK law may make contesting expat wills easier

Published:  29 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: France, Spain, USA, UK, England
Family members left out of an expat’s last will and testament might soon find it easier to contest its bequests if a bill now before parliament is voted into law.

The bill has now passed its third reading in the House of Lords, and will be opened for debate in the House of Commons. If it’s passed into statute and becomes law, non-beneficiaries in the home country who are considered to have legal claims may well be able to pursue the matter in the courts.

This change in the inheritance law is particularly relevant if the deceased expat was resident in France or Spain, as these and several other EU countries operate forced heirship, a system where certain members of the deceased’s family are automatically entitled to inherit in spite of the deceased’s wishes. UK law at present allows the contesting of a will, but only if the deceased died whilst living in England or Wales.

Should the proposed law be passed, this right will be extended to wills made by expats domiciled overseas at the time of death. A necessity for consideration by a UK court would be a well-drafted will, although at the present time only a third of Britons and a far smaller percentage of the hundreds of thousands of expats have actually made a will determining exactly who will inherit and what.
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