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NobleWills Will Writer - One Will vs Multiple Wills: Managing International Assets

One Will vs Multiple Wills: Managing International Assets

article21st Mar, 2023
3 min read

If you are considering estate planning and have assets in different jurisdictions, you may be wondering whether having one Will to cover everything is a viable option. While it may initially seem like having one Will to cover your assets in multiple countries is a simple and cost-effective solution, the purpose of estate planning is to protect your family in the long run.

In reality, having only one Will can be complex and expensive for your loved ones to deal with. This article will explore the benefits of having separate Wills for each country, as opposed to a single Will that covers all your assets.

Time sensitivity

Having a single Will to cover multiple jurisdictions can result in lengthy delays for your family to access your assets. The executor would need to go through a court process, which typically takes 6-9 months or longer if there are disputes, before they can access your assets. After the executor completes the process in one jurisdiction, they would need to retrieve the Will and initiate the process again in the next country. As a result, this process can result in years of delays before your family can access any of your assets.

Additionally, certain documents must be executed to distribute the shares in the estate to the beneficiaries and to pay estate tax. In some countries, these documents must be filed within 6-12 months after your passing. Failure to file these documents and pay taxes on time may result in penalties and surcharges.

Furthermore, some jurisdictions may not finalize the administration of your estate until it is proven that foreign taxes are paid off. This means that even if your family finalizes the administration of your estate in one country, your assets may remain frozen until the administration of your assets in other countries is completed.

Different laws in different countries

Laws governing Wills and estate planning differ from country to country. This means that a Will written in one jurisdiction may not be recognized or enforceable in another. For example, some countries do not recognise the concept of a trust, and so a Will written with a trust may cause complexities and additional costs.

Additionally, the legal requirements for signing and witnessing a Will may differ from country to country, and if these requirements are not met, the Will may be deemed invalid.

Tax laws and regulations

Another potential issue with relying on a single Will is that it may not take into account the different tax laws and regulations in each jurisdiction. For example, some countries may have inheritance taxes that need to be considered, and failing to do so could result in your beneficiaries receiving less than you intended.

Additional costs

With a single Will to deal with multiple jurisdictions, there are bound to be additional expenses and costs associated with the process of retrieving your estate.

Benefits of having separate Wills

Separate Wills can provide more clarity and certainty for your beneficiaries. If you have assets in multiple countries and rely on a single Will, your beneficiaries may need to navigate complex legal processes in each jurisdiction in order to claim their inheritance. Having separate Wills for each jurisdiction can simplify this process and ensure that your beneficiaries receive their inheritance in a timely and efficient manner.

By working with a Will specialist who has expertise in the relevant laws and regulations, you can ensure that each Will is tailored to the specific requirements of each jurisdiction. This can include ensuring that it meets all the necessary legal requirements for signing and witnessing.


In conclusion, while it may seem simpler to have a single Will to cover assets in multiple countries, it can potentially lead to problems and complications. By taking the time to write separate Wills for each jurisdiction, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, while also complying with the legal requirements of each country. Working with a Will specialist who has expertise in the relevant laws and regulations can help to ensure that your estate planning is comprehensive and effective.

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