You are forward thinking enough to not plan to die intestate. You understand the misery and mess that intestacy causes and you want to avoid that for your nearest and dearest. In for a penny, in for a pound – we should beware of accidental or partial intestacy.
All over the world, wills have as their opening clause the form… ‘This is the last will and testament of me Jacqueline Oliver, I revoke all former wills.’. Jacqueline lives with her family in Surrey. Her estate’s worth £650,000. She wrote her will in 1999. She’s confident it is valid, and it reflects her wishes. She has just reviewed it.
Intestacy, Quite by Accident on Overseas Property
Jacqueline happens to own a delightful holiday cottage in Malta.
She went to Malta last year, and wrote a will disposing of her Maltese property.
She has properties in two countries, so has wills in two countries.
So far, so unremarkable.
However, the Maltese will had as its first clause, like most wills do: ‘… I revoke all former wills’. The effect of the Maltese which only referred to her property in Malta was invalidate her 1999 will which governed most of her estate. There’s a reason the document is described as ‘the last will and testament’. Her estate was then, quite by accident subject to partial intestacy.
All’s well that ends well. A subsequent review of both wills discovered the error and a new will was drafted at her home in Surrey, this covered her estate all over the world.
If you’ve property in more than one country, be certain you do not have an overseas will that revokes your UK will. And before you say ‘how would they know?’, these things have a way of leaking out.
Having property in two countries does not necessarily mean one needs wills in two countries. A will in a second country could create partial intestacy.
Banish the Threat of Intestacy on Overseas Property
There are in my experience, two sure ways of avoiding intestacy on overseas property.
The first is vigilance as we’ve seen in this case.