Validity of Wills—foreign element

Validity of Wills—foreign element

Distinction between movables and immovables

English law makes a distinction between movable and immovable assets; succession to movables is governed by the law of domicile (lex domicili) and succession to immovables is governed by the law of the country in which they are situate (lex situs). The distinction is between realty and personalty or real property and all other property.

Will contents

There are a number of matters that should be considered for inclusion in Wills that have a foreign element:


  • a declaration as to the testator’s domicile, which can be included but is perhaps better served by a supplementary document (regularly updated) kept with the Will chronicling the testator’s residence history and giving reasons as to why they claim a particular domicile
  • a declaration as to the law that is to govern the operation of the Will or an election in a manner consistent with Article 22 of EU Regulation No 650/2012 (for deaths on or after 17 August 2015)
  • the appointment of separate executors (resident in the appropriate jurisdiction) for foreign assets in the case of one worldwide Will, save that in civil jurisdictions the assets may bypass executors and vest directly in the heirs
  • the inclusion of a power to appoint agents in the local area to facilitate the administration of the estate and reduce time and costs incurred by the executors
  • the inclusion of the appropriate charging clause for professional executors
  • the inclusion of a revocation clause may not revoke foreign Wills or such Wills may not be revoked unless expressly referred to but if separate Wills for foreign assets are used, the draftsperson should ensure they must not revoke each other
  • a clause disinheriting a beneficiary who challenges the Will may be effective in some civil law jurisdictions

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