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Will my American Will Still be Valid if I Pass Away While Living Abroad?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers a reader question about whether a Will executed in the United States will still be valid if the reader passes away while living abroad.

Transcript of Video: Will my American Will Still be Valid if I Pass Away While Living Abroad?

Today's question is the following the

reader asks will my American Will still

be valid if my spouse and I pass away

while living abroad so this sounds like

a reader who is currently living abroad

or contemplating moving abroad but they

ask the question in the Wisconsin estate

planning forum my answer is as follows

yes your American Will will be

valid as long as you remain domiciled

in the United States even while you pass

away abroad now what's important to

remember is you can only have one Will

at a time and you should form the Will

in your state and country of domicile

domicile is a complicated legal concept

but basically the way to think about it is

where do you think of your home as

so let's say you're going to work abroad in

the Netherlands for two years for your

company but you've lived in Wisconsin

the rest of your life previous to that

and you plan to return to Wisconsin

later well if you have a Wisconsin Will and

something would happen to you while

you're in the Netherlands that Will is

still valid as long as it was validly

executed under the laws of Wisconsin

while you were here that Will will

govern any property in the state of

Wisconsin now if you have other property

as is often the case these days such as

financial accounts or insurance those

often pass non-probate according to

the beneficiary designations you have

on file with the company those will pass

by matter of contract between you and the

company but the Will would cover

everything else that you own and

anything that you forgot perhaps to fill

out a beneficiary designation if you

passed away in our example in the

Netherlands your company or your family

could file that Will back in Wisconsin

in the county in which you were last

domiciled and open a probate action to

get your assets to your heirs so I

recommend that you

and your wife do have a Will form it in your state

and country of domicile before you leave

to go abroad especially if you have real

estate because real estate is tied to a

place so if it's in Wisconsin you should

have a Will to govern what will happen

to it in fact if you own real estate I

would recommend a trust so you could

avoid probate

upon your death if anything should

happen to you but again the short answer

is a Will validly executed in the state

in which you reside before you go abroad

will still be valid while you are abroad

now if you should acquire property in a

country overseas that again you should

check into the laws of that country but

generally it would fall under your will

in your country of domicile however

there may be a better way in that

country to avoid probate on the property

so once again a Will validly formed here

in the U.S. is still valid while you

travel abroad have a safe trip and a

great time wherever you're planning to

live! Great question and thank you for


© 2019 Law Office of Thomas B. Burton. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired.

For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact my office.

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