Previously it was common practice for individuals with assets in Australia and overseas to prepare a Will in each country where they held assets. This was to ensure the requirements for a valid Will were met in each country given differences in rules between countries.

To overcome this, Australia became a party to the International Wills Convention which came into effect in Australia on 10 March 2015.

This convention seeks to harmonise and simplify the requirements for a valid Will across countries by introducing what is known as an ‘International Will’. While the requirements for an International Will are very similar to a valid Will in NSW there are a few key differences.

The similarities are:

  • it must be in writing;
  • it must signed by the Willmaker;
  • it must be witnessed by 2 witnesses; and
  • the Willmaker must know the document is his/her will and the contents of it.

The differences are:

  • An ‘Authorised Person’ must sign the International Will as a 3rdwitness. An Authorised Person means an Australian legal practitioner or a public notary of Australia. This is not required for a valid Will in NSW.
  • The Authorised Person must execute a Certificate stating that the obligations of the Convention have been complied with and attach this to the International Will. This is not required for a valid Will in NSW.
  • An International Will requires the Willmaker and all 3 witnesses to sign every page of the Will – while this is common practice in NSW it is not a legal requirement.

An International Will can be a cost effective and efficient way to have a Will drafted that covers your international assets.

Countries that are currently parties to the Convention alongside Australia include USA (only some states), United Kingdom, Canada, France and Italy. For a full list of countries please visit this link. https://www.unidroit.org/status-successions.

If you would like more information on this please do not hesitate to contact one of our estate planning solicitors on (02) 9523 5535. We can also assist with any enquiries relating to creating a Will that covers assets in any countries that are not a party to the Convention.

What do you think?

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