The validity of your U.S. will in a foreign country all depends on a number of variables, such as the country where you reside, your residential status, the value of the estate, and so on. In general, if your will is considered valid by a foreign country, this means they recognize it as a will. Fortunately, there are a couple of international conventions that cover wills and final testaments that permit foreign countries to deem your U.S. will as valid, so if you live within one of these countries, your U.S. will may work abroad, and you do not need to take any further action.
However, if you live outside of one of these countries, your U.S. will abroad be dependent upon the local law of the area where you now live. The two conventions in question are as follows:
- Hague Convention on Form of Testamentary Disposition of 1961
- International Will Statute, also known as the Washington Convention
If you do not live in one of the countries that have adopted one of the conventions, the recognition of your US will abroad depend on local law, you can seek legal advice from a local attorney to decide whether your US will is legitimate.
Making A Will If You Live Abroad
Of course, if you own assets in the U.S. it's important you consider taking steps to protect your property. Writing a will is a practical and integral part of wealth planning. Your citizenship and where you live, work or own property will affect your existing estate plan. Estate planning and inheritance laws will vary in every country, but taking the time to write your will may help to protect some of your existing assets in jurisdictions that qualify.
If you live overseas but still own a home, you should research applicable estate laws. Making a will if you live abroad can be complex and you may benefit from speaking with an estate planning attorney to discuss it further.
Process of Writing A Will
A common misconception is that you will need an attorney to draft a will. Most lawyers require a license to practice law in the jurisdiction where they live. Fortunately, traveling overseas to create a will for the property you own in the U.S. doesn't have to be complex. Learn how to make a Will online.
Anymore, there are online methods to create a last will and testament. You can prepare a will for your country of origin from the comfort of your home, whether you're living in Dubai or elsewhere. It's important to consider where your assets are located to be sure your will matches specific laws in that destination.
The process of writing a will for areas in the U.S. is the same. Using a service like Wills.com can help you save time and headaches without the need to travel for creating legally binding documents.
Estate Planning for Expats
Some ex-pats live in a country long enough that it makes sense for them to draft a will in the local jurisdiction. This raises two questions: what are the rules that govern the drafting and probating of a will abroad? And how does your US will from years ago that you had drafted at home fit into the picture? Talking to a local estate planning attorney is a good idea if you are unsure of the above.
There is one thing that everyone seems to agree on: having a will, even if you never leave the USA, is still a very good idea. In fact, having a will is so practical and convenient to acquire, in states you can create and notarize it online without the need of having an appointment with a lawyer.