By now, we’ve all digested the controversial news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are stepping down as senior royals and moving to Canada. A lot of opinions have been shared, but I’m going to unpack the estate planning lesson from their withdrawal.

Should the Sussexes embrace Canadian culture and get a winter residence here in Florida, but also keep some assets in Canada or even the UK (should the Queen allow it), how can they best structure their estate plan?

When individuals reside in one country and own assets (such as cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.) in another venue, the laws of different countries can create unintended consequences once the individual passes away.

Some countries may recognize Wills drafted in another jurisdiction. For example, a foreign Will may be valid in Florida If the foreign Will was executed with the Florida requirements as spelled out by Florida Statute, Chapter 732.  However, some countries will not recognize a Will drafted in another country under any circumstance, or only in a special situation.

There are generally four different ways to address owning assets in multiple venues; (1) multiple Wills, (2) an International Will, (3) an International Trust, (4) dealing with the assets individually in the respective venues, or usually, a combination of all four options.

Multiple Wills are the most complex and difficult documents to write, especially when there are differing inheritance, spousal or tax laws across multiple venues.  An International Will is a limited option as to date, only 18 countries recognize these Wills (lucky for Harry and Megs, US, Canada and the UK are all on the list!).

Our office utilizes an international trust, advises our clients to provide a beneficiary arrangement for every foreign asset and establishes a valid Florida Last Will and Testament.

Stay tuned for our next discussion, how to write your kids out of your Last Will and Testament should they leave your royal household LOL