For those who possess real estate in the U.S. and abroad, estate planning is a more complex process. It is vital that you include your foreign property in your estate plan correctly so that your heirs have no issues with their inheritance. Most other countries don’t recognize U.S. wills, so you will need legal documentation that is valid in the relevant foreign jurisdiction.

Does that mean multiple wills is the best plan?

Yes, having multiple wills is an option, but you must follow specific guidelines. You will need an experienced U.S. lawyer and a lawyer from each country in which you hold property. The U.S. lawyer and foreign lawyer(s) must work together, simultaneously drafting the wills to ensure that all wills remain valid. Each will must refer to the other will directly to avoid confusion and future problems.

Is there another option?

In addition to your domestic will, you could also use a supplementary will, which simply covers the property owned in the foreign country. It would only include what’s called “real property,” which—for the purposes of understanding the term—is synonymous with real estate. You should reference this small addendum in your domestic will to avoid any legal confusion.

Foreign property should be a blessing—not a burden. You can ensure this is the case with an estate plan that covers every one of your assets.