Sue Fleming

International Wills

Estate Planning and WillsQueensland Parliament has recently moved to amend the Succession Bill 1981 (Qld) to enable a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will (also known as Convention of International Wills) to take effect in Queensland. Australia is expected to sign the Convention of International Wills once the relevant Australian jurisdictions have amended their individual legislations.

Key Points of the International Wills

An international will is going to be valid in all jurisdictions or countries signatory to the convention regardless of:

  • where the will was made;
  • where the assets of the willmaker are located, and
  • the willmaker’s country of residence.

Main Principles of the International Wills

A valid international will must be:

  • in a written form;
  • signed by the willmaker;
  • made for one willmaker only;
  • witnessed by at least 3 individuals: 2 witnesses and 1 authorised person (in Australia, a solicitor or a public notary);
  • certified by an authorised person of its compliance with international will’s requirements;
  • acknowledged of its content by the willmaker;

Practical Implications of the International Wills in Queensland

Some of the effects to the Succession Bill 1981 (Qld) amendments relating to international wills:

  • international wills may be recognised as valid in Queensland courts;
  • a Queensland court may not have to examine the foreign countries’ laws to decide if the will has been lawfully executed;
  • individuals with assets or beneficiaries located in Australian and overseas jurisdictions will be able to maximise flexibility in their estate planning.

Limitations of the International Wills

It’s helpful to keep in mind that the Convention of International Wills is only binding in countries and jurisdictions who have signed the convention and enacted relevant legislation to give effect to it. Some countries have signed the convention but have yet to ratify it while many others have neither signed it nor ratified it.

Countries that have ratified the convention: Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Cyprus, Ecuador, France, Italy, Libya, Niger, Portugal, Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia.

Countries that have signed but not yet ratified the convention: Iran, Laos, the Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Asset Test for Age Pensioners: How Much Can You Give Away?

Giving away your own assets is generally not restricted in any way unless you’re planning to apply for Centrelink or a Department of Veteran Affairs’ age pension. If you are, then you should be aware of the “gifting rules” which will be used to assess your pension entitlements.  The “gifting rules” are comprised of two asset gifting tests:asset tests

  • A single person or a couple can give away assets up to a maximum of $10,000 in a single financial year, and
  • A single person or a couple can give away assets up to a maximum of $30,000 over a period of 5 consecutive years.

Any assets exceeding these amounts will be classed as “deprived assets” and will be assumed to earn interest and classified as income.

The consequences of excessive gifting can catch you out and cost you money. If you are thinking about it and want to discuss your estate planning, please contact Sue Fleming or Adam Robinson of Hollingworth & Spencer Lawyers for professional advice.

Due to the impact of specific facts on any given case please treat this information as a general guide and not as legal advice. If you require advice on how to adequately protect your security rights please contact Sue Fleming or Adam Robinson on 07 3123 5700.