The loss of a loved one is a difficult and trying experience. The legalities of probating a will, especially an international one, can add another layer of stress during this already emotional time.
You are probably wondering, Does Texas recognize wills from other countries? Texas does recognize wills from other countries. However, a will from another country might have to go through a more complicated probate process. To make matters as easy for your family as possible, it’s a good idea to update your will so that it is in compliance with the laws where you live. If your family member left a will from another country, The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, can help. Our attorneys have years of experience handling Texas estate and probate matters, and we can help you navigate probate for a will that is from another country. Contact us today.
What Is a Foreign Will?
Under Texas law, a “foreign will” is a will that was executed in compliance with the laws of another state or country. The process for probating a foreign will depends on where the person lived when they died. If a person had a primary residence in Texas when they died, a Texas court can probate the will if it meets the requirements of the Texas Estates Code or the laws of another state or country. If a person did not live in Texas when they died, the Texas court can probate the part of the will affecting Texas property.
Foreign wills may be subject to original probate or ancillary probate, depending on which court has original jurisdiction.
Can You Probate a Foreign Will in Texas?: Original vs. Ancillary Probate
When a person dies, the family should submit the will for probate in the county where the person lived. The probate court determines whether the will is valid, who should administer the estate, and who the proper beneficiaries are. Original probate means a Texas court determines all of these issues. However, the Texas court can only make decisions about property located in Texas.
If your loved one lived outside of Texas, you need ancillary probate to reach their Texas assets. Before applying for ancillary probate, the probate court in the person’s home jurisdiction must validate the will. Then, you can file an authenticated copy of the foreign will for Texas ancillary probate. A Texas court may authenticate a foreign will through original probate if the will is not filed in another jurisdiction first. However, the foreign will must meet Texas’s will requirements before the court accepts it for original probate.
Will Considerations When You Own Property in Two Countries
Because of the variations in the laws, writing a will becomes more complicated when you own property in two countries. Some additional considerations for a multi-national estate include:
- Jurisdiction. Texas law governs the distribution of Texas assets, and the other country’s laws govern the distribution of assets in that country. You might execute a separate will in each country or one that complies with the laws of both countries.
- Taxation. Owning property in two countries may also have tax implications. Our attorneys can help you understand the tax implications of devising property in Texas and another country.
- Language. A will written in one country may not be easily understood in Texas. Ensure that your will is written in or translated into a language that a Texas court can easily interpret.
- Asset Distribution. Consider the way you distribute your assets. It may be easier to transfer or sell certain assets in Texas than in other countries and vice versa.
- Succession laws. Texas does not have forced heirship laws. However, other countries may have laws limiting the distribution of certain assets to certain heirs, regardless of what the will says. An attorney can help you understand the laws of both countries and plan accordingly.
- Domicile. To probate a will in Texas, the decedent must have lived in Texas at the time of death. For ancillary probate, the foreign will must affect property located in Texas.
Probating property in both Texas and another country can be complex. An attorney familiar with Texas and international laws can help you craft an estate plan that meets your family’s needs.
Foreign Wills at The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC
When you choose The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, for your estate planning and probate needs, we treat you like family. Whether you want to create or revise your estate plan or whether you need help probating a foreign will, we are here to help you. Our dedicated team can provide you with the experience, skill, and guidance you need to help you secure your family’s future. Contact us today for a consultation to learn more about how we can help you achieve your estate planning and probate goals.