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Who Gets the Holiday Home on Separation or Death?

Posted on Friday, 21st June 2013 by

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Many thousands of Britains are either the owners of property abroad or the children of now, perhaps, elderly owners of properties within foreign Countries.

If parties get divorced owning property abroad then, generally speaking, property splitting/sale is not difficult.  If the English Court has jurisdiction in the divorce and there is no question about ownership, their assets abroad would be dealt with broadly in the same way as they would be if they were in this Country but, obviously taking account of certain local Laws.

It is very different if property is inherited.  It is a very common provision in English Law that a surviving spouse will inherit jointly owned property from their deceased husband or wife and that ultimately they will probably pass that property onto their own children.

This is not always the case in foreign jurisdictions where there are certain inalienable property rights giving children the right to inherit from their parents in priority to the surviving spouse, certainly not for the whole estate, but for a specific proportion of it and that proportion varies from Country to Country.  Sometimes these inalienable property rights can override specific provisions in the Will, where you are effectively not allowed to dispose of that part of your Estate that the Law of that Country earmarks for your children and wider family.

We recommend that people with holiday homes abroad not only make a Will in this Country specifically dealing with their United Kingdom assets but also a Will in the foreign Country, with the advice of a foreign Lawyer, so that they can be certain as to what the effect of the foreign Law will be on the death of the first of them to die.

The tax consequences of these dispositions also needs to be carefully considered.  It is probably true to say that foreign tax Laws are always different; sometimes in your favour and sometimes not.  Knowledge is therefore important for planning and other taxation advice.


Faye Remnant is part of our Family Law team based in Loughborough; our Solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.

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The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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