International Wills drafted and certified to comply with International Will requirements –
Problems and extra costs can occur where assets or beneficiaries are located across several overseas jurisdictions.
To simplify succession law in Australia, the Australian Government has been working to accede to the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973 (the Convention). On 10 September 2014, Australia ratified the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973 (the Convention) which will enter into force on 10 March 2015 follOwing the passing of legislation by all states and territories in Australia.
The Convention was developed by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), a forum which aims to develop international instruments to assist in the harmonisation of private international law principles between member countries. Australia has been a member since 1973.
The Convention assists Wills with an international aspect by setting up a uniform law introducing a new form of will, known as an ‘international will’, which is recognised as a valid form in all countries that are party to the Convention. International Wills should be utilised where ever there are assets in other jurisdictions and/or where the Will maker intends living elsewhere than in Australia or where overseas persons are appointed as executors under the Will. Recognition of International Wills in participating states could save much time and cost in the administration of the estate.
An International Will requires authorised persons (in Australia a legal practitioner or a Notary Public) to provide a certificate under their hand which certifies a number of things. The authorised person must be present with two witnesses and must provide the will maker with a copy of the Certificate. Certification by a Notary Public may provide further acceptance in overseas jurisdictions given the position of trust that Notaries hold internationally. However, the Convention does not require certfiication by a Notary.
It should also be noted that the member countries to this date (11/02/2015) are limited. The list of countries can be found on the UNIDROIT website and a map of the world showing those countries is also available. It is expected that more countries will eventually adopt the convention.