About the “international wills” and other confusing type of wills

The World is getting smaller. There is no doubt about it. In this era of globalisation, we have seen British acquiring properties in other countries such as Spain, France, Italy, you name it. The British affair with sunny places is well known. Programs such as “A place in the sun” are a good example of it. However, not everyone has taken the necessary measures to deal with the assets they own abroad and to ensure that their loved ones are covered if something were to happen. I am talking obviously about the convenience of making a will.

Fortunately, not everyone has neglected this particular point as many have signed wills to cover their assets abroad. Some have even signed a peculiar type of will called “international will” which I personally find very confusing. This so called “international will” is presented to the testator as the panacea, the magic solution, the philosopher’s stone that will cover the entire testator’s worldwide estate.

I have seen a couple of these “international wills” and they have raised several alerts on me as they do not appear to comply with a specific jurisdiction and therefore are under the risk of being considered null. For instance, the wills I have seen were signed by English nationals and were supposed to deal with assets in Spain. However, the form of the wills was neither compliant with Spanish or English law. This could involve a potential nullity that will inevitably lead to intestacy as Spanish law states that it is possible to sign a foreign will as long as this complies with the formalities of the country where it’s signed. Unfortunately, the “international wills” I have seen do not comply with a specific jurisdiction and therefore the potential problems are numerous.

I might be wrong but my opinion is that if someone has signed one of those “international wills” then the person should seek legal advice as it may be the case that the will is not valid. He/she may still be on time to change the will and grant a proper will that will be recognised in the necessary countries.