People who own property or businesses abroad could be putting thousands of pounds of their estate at risk by failing to have a separate will in that country, a Shropshire will writer warned today.
Terry Le Long, who runs Telford-based NLS Shropshire Will and Trust Services, gave the warning after he was forced to travel at short notice to Turkey on behalf of the family of a man who had failed to declare he had a property abroad and had not included it in his will in the UK.
Mr Le Long, the regional chairman of the Society of Will Writers for Shropshire, Staffordshire and Mid Wales, said his client had not made a separate will in Turkey to deal with his Turkish assets and make his wishes known. This had forced him to go to the Turkish courts on behalf of the family to prove who owned the property and that it should be left to his children as the man stated in his UK will.
Mr Le Long, who travels twice a year to Thailand to write wills for hundreds of ex-pats, said: “Everybody who has an immovable asset outside of the UK must understand it is vital you have a separate will in that country to deal with these assets.
“My most recent case involved a man who died who had a will in the UK which left his assets to his children but stated everything should be kept in trust until the youngest was 25 years old.
“But he did not tell me about a property he owned in Turkey. This means I have had to travel to Turkey to visit the land registry and the courts and prove who his children are and who the UK executor is and hope that the Turkish law will allow his UK executor to deal with his four-bedroomed detached property based on the wishes of his English will.
“But this situation has opened us up to the Turkish law and it is in their hands as to whether they accept the UK will.”
Mr Le Long said the last wishes of the deceased could be lost if the Turkish courts hand the property straight over to the family without stipulating it is put in trust until they reach 25 or the courts refuse to allow the UK will to stand and keep the property.
He said creditors including the bank, a local hospital and electricity and water companies were “queuing up to split the proceeds of the sale of the property”.
“We would have avoided any trip to Turkey and saved weeks of heartache if the client had declared the property while making his UK will, because I could have ensured he had a separate will for the Turkish assets,” Mr Le Long said.
“If you have property in France, Spain and England you need three wills. The extra cost is worth it for the sake of your family who have to deal with your estate after you have gone and to ensure all of your wishes are followed.”
The will-writer’s expertise has seen him write wills and powers of attorney in Thailand, Canada, France, Spain and Poland.
For more information on wills and estate services call Mr Le Long and his team on 01952 250360.
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