Cross Border Estates: What Happens to Your Global Assets After Death?

When it comes to managing our finances, it’s essential to consider the potential implications of our assets after we pass away. For those who hold assets around the world, the implications can be even more complex. This is where cross-border estates come into play, and it’s crucial to understand what they are and what they mean.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the topic of cross-border estates and how they can impact your assets after your death.

What are cross-border estates?

A cross-border estate is one where the deceased has assets located in different countries. It could be a bank account, real estate property, shares, or any other asset that has value. These estates are becoming more common as people are increasingly investing and owning assets across the globe. 

The complexity of cross-border estates arises due to the differences in legal systems and tax laws across different countries. For instance, if you have a property in the UK and another in the US, your beneficiaries may have to go through two separate legal processes to inherit these assets. 

What happens to your cross-border estate after you die?

When you pass away, your estate goes through a legal process called probate. This process is different for every country, and it can be complicated when you have assets in different jurisdictions. 

The probate process involves validating your will, identifying your assets, and distributing them to your beneficiaries. If you have assets in multiple countries, your estate may need to go through probate in each of those countries. This can be time-consuming and expensive, and it’s essential to plan ahead to avoid complications.

Why is Planning Important?

Cross-border estates can be particularly challenging because of the differing laws and regulations in each country. For example, inheritance laws can vary greatly from one country to another. Without proper planning, your loved ones could face a number of difficulties in trying to navigate the complexities of cross-border estates.

One key aspect of planning for a cross-border estate is understanding the concept of domicile. Domicile refers to the country in which a person is considered to have their permanent home. It is important to establish your domicile for estate planning purposes, as this will determine which country’s laws apply to your estate.

Another important aspect of planning for a cross-border estate is understanding the concept of forced heirship. Some countries have laws in place that require a certain portion of a person’s estate to be distributed to their heirs, regardless of what is stated in their will. This can be a particularly important consideration for those with assets in countries with forced heirship laws.

How can you plan for your cross-border estate?

Planning ahead can save your beneficiaries time, money, and stress. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Create a will: Your will should clearly state your wishes regarding your assets and who you want to inherit them. 
  2. Seek legal advice: You should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you understand the legal and tax implications of your cross-border assets. 
  3. Consider setting up a trust: A trust can help you avoid the probate process and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. 
  4. Keep your documents up to date: Make sure your beneficiaries know where to find your will and other important documents, such as deeds, titles, and account statements. 

Estate Planning Strategies:

There are a number of estate planning strategies that can be used to help mitigate the challenges of cross-border estates. One important strategy is to work with a team of attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors who can help you navigate the complex legal and tax implications of cross-border estates.

Another strategy is to create a comprehensive estate plan that takes into account the differing laws and regulations of each country in which you hold assets. This may include establishing trusts or other legal structures that can help to protect your assets and ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes.

It is also important to review and update your estate plan regularly to ensure that it remains up-to-date and reflects any changes in your personal circumstances or in the laws and regulations of the countries in which you hold assets.



In conclusion, cross-border estates can present a number of challenges for those who hold assets in multiple countries. However, with proper planning and the assistance of a team of experienced advisors, it is possible to navigate these challenges and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. At Finsbury Wealth, we are committed to helping our clients plan for their cross-border estates and achieve peace of mind knowing that their assets are protected.