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Different Wills for Different Jurisdictions

wills Jul 10, 2019

Our clients are increasingly mobile and often have connections to multiple jurisdictions. They may own a house in Palm Springs, have bank accounts in the UK, a cottage in Croatia, or a business in Spain.

Our office once dealt with and estate where a husband and wife had been married for several years. They had three lovely children, and owned a successful business in Edmonton. When the husband passed, everything rolled over to his wife...BUT the condo in Hawaii! We had to take the Canadian will and have the Hawaiian courts reseal the grant of probate so that the condo could be sold. In Alberta this would have cost about $7000.00 Canadian. The courts in the US didn't seem to like the Canadian probate process  and it took 10 months and $13,000.00 to have the will recognized in Hawaii.

If you or your loved ones own property in other countries, how should you be handling this in your will? In Alberta, the will is governed by the law of where the client was living for property such as cars and motorhomes, and for real estate the law of the property location is what governs. So in our Hawaii situation we had an Alberta will, written by an Albertan lawyer being interpreted in Hawaii, and some of the language didn't seem to make sense to their courts.

What we have found to be the easiest way to handle this situation, is to separate the deceased estate. So we write a will that deals with All the property in Alberta or Canada. We contact a lawyer in the "foreign" jurisdiction  and have them write a will dealing with the other property. We take the time to confirm that the other will wont revoke our domestic will, and that the executors can handle the estate in the applicable jurisdiction. We also want to confirm that these types of wills will avoid double probate fees.

If you own property outside Canada or even Alberta, it might be time to review your estate plan. Call and make  an appointment to have your plan reviewed by our estate planning lawyers. We are here to help!

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