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Separate will for UK US or just one?

View Poll Results: Will(s) for assets in US and UK
Need separate wills for US and UK (or other non-US assets)
0
0%
No - one will covers both countries
6
66.67%
It’s more complicated - I’ll explain...
0
0%
I don’t know!
3
33.33%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

Separate will for UK US or just one?

Old Jun 8th 2021, 2:29 am
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Default Separate will for UK US or just one?

I know this has been covered in several threads in the past. I thought the ultimate consensus was that one will can cover property and assets in both countries. However....

My husband and I need to update our wills and have engaged an attorney in California who specializes in estate planning. She is insistent that we need separate wills for the US and the UK.

Just wondering whether this is really true. What about celebrities who own properties in several countries - surely they wouldn’t have multiple wills?

If anyone has knowledge of this I’d be grateful as I would not want to risk confusion in the event of my demise.
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Old Jun 8th 2021, 11:26 am
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by Elvira View Post
I know this has been covered in several threads in the past. I thought the ultimate consensus was that one will can cover property and assets in both countries. However....

My husband and I need to update our wills and have engaged an attorney in California who specializes in estate planning. She is insistent that we need separate wills for the US and the UK.

Just wondering whether this is really true. What about celebrities who own properties in several countries - surely they wouldn’t have multiple wills?

If anyone has knowledge of this I’d be grateful as I would not want to risk confusion in the event of my demise.
There is no single answer. It may depend on what assets you have where in the world. State law will also be a factor. For me here in GA the advice was one will to cover here and the UK, and that is what I have done.
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Old Jun 8th 2021, 5:58 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

My wife and I each have one will to cover both countries. However we did appoint joint executors, one in each country, so someone was local to where things would need doing.
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Old Jun 9th 2021, 7:09 am
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

We had one will in the USA and now one will in the UK as we are living there. Since the will starts with something along the lines of “This is the last will and testament of ...” it would seem strange to have multiple wills.

In the USA we each have brokerage and bank accounts with beneficiaries named and I believe in US law this supersedes any will anyway. (I know of at least one instance of a person dying, leaving everything to his wife and children but he had apparently failed to change his 401k beneficiaries and his ex-wife got the 401k).
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Old Jun 10th 2021, 6:07 am
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by Elvira View Post
I know this has been covered in several threads in the past. I thought the ultimate consensus was that one will can cover property and assets in both countries. However....

My husband and I need to update our wills and have engaged an attorney in California who specializes in estate planning. She is insistent that we need separate wills for the US and the UK.

Just wondering whether this is really true. What about celebrities who own properties in several countries - surely they wouldn’t have multiple wills?

If anyone has knowledge of this I’d be grateful as I would not want to risk confusion in the event of my demise.
I never practiced in the area of estate planning but I do have the general training inherent in a US legal education. I have also been involved in my personal estate plan and those of my late parents. So, that said --

I have the feeling that you may have misstated your question. You may want to seek clarification from the lawyer as to why.

In the US, "wills" are now generally a minor part of estate planning having been usually superceded by "revocable inter vivos trusts" (commonly called "living trusts.") Without going into detail, traditional trust law did not allow for revocable inter vivos trust inasmuch as it seems to individual ownership. I'm given to understand that the UK may still not recognize revocable inter vivos trusts.

Also, California is a community property jurisdiction regarding property acquired during marriage. The UK is not.

Again, I can't answer your question. But I can envision situations where it seems there are separate "wills" when that is not the case.
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Old Jun 10th 2021, 6:23 am
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post
We had one will in the USA and now one will in the UK as we are living there. Since the will starts with something along the lines of “This is the last will and testament of ...” it would seem strange to have multiple wills.

In the USA we each have brokerage and bank accounts with beneficiaries named and I believe in US law this supersedes any will anyway. (I know of at least one instance of a person dying, leaving everything to his wife and children but he had apparently failed to change his 401k beneficiaries and his ex-wife got the 401k).
Actually, it is possible to have multiple testamentary documents, but the legal issues involved can make for a right mess. It is considered best practice to always include language in a will revoking all prior wills and codicils in order to avoid such a mess.

(It is also standard practice to have standard disinhertance verbiage. A famous occasion of omission of such language was the will of the "H" founder of DHL who had a fondness of unprotected intercourse with young virgins. Inasmuch as the named beneficiary of the will was the University of California, the ensuing litigation was a tad interesting).
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Old Jun 10th 2021, 7:06 am
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by S Folinsky View Post
Actually, it is possible to have multiple testamentary documents, but the legal issues involved can make for a right mess. It is considered best practice to always include language in a will revoking all prior wills and codicils in order to avoid such a mess.

(It is also standard practice to have standard disinhertance verbiage. A famous occasion of omission of such language was the will of the "H" founder of DHL who had a fondness of unprotected intercourse with young virgins. Inasmuch as the named beneficiary of the will was the University of California, the ensuing litigation was a tad interesting).
Thanks for this. I just checked my will and the first paragraph does indeed revoke all prior wills and testamentary dispositions.

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Old Jun 10th 2021, 4:33 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post
We had one will in the USA and now one will in the UK as we are living there. Since the will starts with something along the lines of “This is the last will and testament of ...” it would seem strange to have multiple wills.

In the USA we each have brokerage and bank accounts with beneficiaries named and I believe in US law this supersedes any will anyway. (I know of at least one instance of a person dying, leaving everything to his wife and children but he had apparently failed to change his 401k beneficiaries and his ex-wife got the 401k).
That is correct Durham Lad, in USA, the appointment of a beneficiary supersedes any will for bank, brokerage, IRA, 401k, life and annuity products. Funds will be dispersed directly to the beneficiaries on production of the death certificate, regardless of Will, executor, probate or estate attorneys being involved.
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Old Jun 10th 2021, 5:06 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by S Folinsky View Post
Actually, it is possible to have multiple testamentary documents, but the legal issues involved can make for a right mess. It is considered best practice to always include language in a will revoking all prior wills and codicils in order to avoid such a mess.

(It is also standard practice to have standard disinhertance verbiage. A famous occasion of omission of such language was the will of the "H" founder of DHL who had a fondness of unprotected intercourse with young virgins. Inasmuch as the named beneficiary of the will was the University of California, the ensuing litigation was a tad interesting).
Thank you so much Mr F.
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Old Jun 10th 2021, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

So, the current plan is to create "revocable inter vivos trusts" for our California properties.
Most of my other US based assets are in a SEP pension, where I have nominated beneficiaries.
The rest is just a bit of cash in a joint account with my husband, which he can keep.
so I'm thinking maybe I don't even need a US will?

I wonder if i can I avoid "creating a mess" if I just have a UK will, making it clear that this will replaces all previous wills and deals with UK assets only?
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Old Jun 10th 2021, 9:36 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by Elvira View Post
So, the current plan is to create "revocable inter vivos trusts" for our California properties.
Most of my other US based assets are in a SEP pension, where I have nominated beneficiaries.
The rest is just a bit of cash in a joint account with my husband, which he can keep.
so I'm thinking maybe I don't even need a US will?

I wonder if i can I avoid "creating a mess" if I just have a UK will, making it clear that this will replaces all previous wills and deals with UK assets only?
If you have an American trust I would suspect it would be best accompanied by an American (state specific) will. The will needs to be sure to spill things over into the trust that may not have been appropriately titled.
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Old Jun 11th 2021, 5:44 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

DH and I have a will and that we put 401k, bank accounts and house into a trust to try and avoid the hassle of probate. We wanted to have our daughter as executor, but couldn't as she lives abroad and isn't a US citizen. We now have a trusted friend as executor, but don't know if the estate attorney would be a better option for that.
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Old Jun 12th 2021, 5:24 am
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Originally Posted by Elvira View Post
So, the current plan is to create "revocable inter vivos trusts" for our California properties.
Most of my other US based assets are in a SEP pension, where I have nominated beneficiaries.
The rest is just a bit of cash in a joint account with my husband, which he can keep.
so I'm thinking maybe I don't even need a US will?

I wonder if i can I avoid "creating a mess" if I just have a UK will, making it clear that this will replaces all previous wills and deals with UK assets only?
I'm personally doing a face palm on the last questions. I know I shouldn't do that. I suggest you discuss this with the lawyer you already have.

Do note that an estate plan goes into action upon death but is being written now.

Here in the US, an estate subject to probate or administration is governed by state law of the place of residence at time of death. Let's say California is the state in question -- a California executor or administrator has nationwide authority of the personal property of the estate. So, a California executor can take care of a bank account or an automobile in New Jersey. However, that authority does NOT extend to real property- that requires an "ancillary" proceeding in the state where the real property is located.

Out of idle curiosity, I briefly checked UK law. From what I gather, an ancillary proceeding in the UK is called "resealing" and is not limited to real property.

Do consult with your lawyer. They should explain it to you.
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Old Jun 12th 2021, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

Thanks again Mr F - I shall 😀
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Old Jun 12th 2021, 9:53 pm
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Default Re: Separate will for UK US or just one?

One more thing:
My Centre of gravity is the UK, and by the time I pop my clogs I’ll most likely be resident in the UK and my green card will have lapsed.
I am wondering how this may complicate all this...
Unfortunately our attorney seems to have limited experience or knowledge of people with assets outside the US.
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