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Cross Boundaries Inheritance Planning

By Dr. Guy Carmi,
Attorney-at-law and Notary

The world is becoming smaller and smaller, and more and more people hold assets in different countries or wish to bequeath their assets to beneficiaries in other countries. The challenges in crafting a Will that shall be acknowledged in all relevant jurisdictions, and shall keep as much as possible in the hands of the inheritors is becoming more and more complex.

If you have assets abroad, or if you wish to bequeath assets to family abroad, then a well-crafted Will is a must for you. Such a Will should take into consideration several factors. These include familiarity with the current laws of Israel and of the relevant foreign countries, taxation planning, intelligent division of property (for example, inheriting assets in a particular country to inheritors in the same country), etc.

For example, one of my clients has assets both in Israel and an Anglo country and wishes to pass on his assets to beneficiaries both in Israel and that country. We crafted a Will that inherits all his Israeli assets to Israeli beneficiaries and all his assets in the other country to beneficiaries there. This should facilitate the enjoyment of the heirs of their inheritance in due time, without needing to meddle with affairs in foreign jurisdictions.

The differences in the laws of inheritance in different countries may be also material, and not merely procedural. For instance, some countries, mainly in Europe, limit the ability to inherit your assets to whomever you desire. In such cases, one may create separate Wills for separate jurisdictions, in order to circumvent some of these restrictions.

Furthermore, crafting a Will that conforms to the laws of the other relevant foreign country may promote the efficacy and rapidity of the Will's execution. This may allow submitting the Will for execution in the foreign country, without a lengthy (and possibly costly) procedure of the execution of a foreign judgment in the other country, in which the Israeli inheritance decree is requested to be enforced. Instead, a Will that conforms to the laws of the foreign country can often be submitted to the Probate Registrar of the other country, with very limited means or burden.

In addition, in some jurisdictions, there are means to save or alleviate taxes – in particular in countries that have inheritance taxes or estate taxes. In some cases, the formation of a Trusteeship can be a useful tool. Where needed, consult with tax experts in order to assure the optimization of these aspects.

In conclusion, if you have assets in multiple jurisdictions or heirs in different countries – writing a Will is a must. Otherwise, you might leave your heirs with a "bureaucratic inheritance" that may reduce their share and create unwarranted trouble. 

For initial complementary advice please contact Dr. Guy Carmi, Attorney-at-Law and Notary, Tel Aviv
Tel: 03 911 1034; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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