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It was always the case that foreign citizens could apply their personal law to their estates. The personal law was usually the law applicable in their country of birth/citizenship (If Portuguese citizenship was taken up, then Portuguese personal law applied as far as I am aware). If that citizen was married to a Portuguese citizen or had children who were Portuguese citizens then the story was different.

The Brussels IV ruling does not change the previous law as applicable to non residents - the changes apply to residents. Foreign nationals resident in Portugal have the option of having their personal law applying to their estates.
 

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Which is what we did. We have granted Portuguese Wills under the laws of England and Wales. We can recommend a very competent English speaking lawyer in Pombal.
 

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Hi OrangesYeah,

According to our Portuguese avogado you only need to have an English will for UK/Portugal. The Portuguese legal system has no interest in the matter.
 

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We do also have English Wills to cover any estate in UK. Our Portuguese Wills mean we do not have to follow Portuguese law which seems very rigid but the estate will be distributed according to our wishes.
 

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Thanks for the replies, Maggy and thegypsyinme

I must admit "thegypsyinme" I'm surprised at your avogado's advice which, although it may be true, isn't what most people do. When I first arrived I was told, at Finanças, that I didn't need to declare UK bank interest on my tax return, I am very glad I didn't believe him!

Also, my mother-in-law died while living in France. The French certainly took an interest - a notaire took over everything and we paid lots of tax on her estate when, apart from any tax on her house and belongings, we wouldn't have paid a penny if we had been allowed to deal with it in the UK.

Maggy, I must ask - do both your wills say the same thing, just in different languages?
 

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In my view, for what it is worth, better to have a UK/ foreign will to handle the UK assets, and have a separate will to handle specifically the Portuguese assets.

If you look/find an English speaking notary, you can have a Portuguese will done for not too much money.

With a Portuguese will, the local 'probate' will be relatively simple and low cost, as opposed to an English will, which will first go through foreign legalisation, translated and submitted to local court etc - lawyers (both foreign and local) love it.
 

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Um, now I'm confused as I'm understanding TonyJ1 as saying that one should have different wills for each country but I understood Maggy as saying she had the same for both countries, just in different languages.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As I understand it, the change in legislation means the will can comply with UK inheritance rules, can be written in English and can apply to all properties in the EU at least.

To me, the question now is do they now need to be registered with a notary or once signed and witnessed can the will simply be put in a safe place until the relevant person croaks?
 

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Our Portuguese solicitor arranged for our Portuguese Wills to be notarised (not cheap) but she says that it is a "belt & braces" solution to making probate easier. In the UK our British solicitor holds our English Wills for safekeeping as he is the executor in the event of the death of the survivor. Our Portuguese solicitor is in Pombal and everyone we have recommended to her and for whom she has acted is very pleased with her service.
 

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My suggestion, as I have suggested in other posts, consult an English speaking notary - they are around and the younger ones are approachable for their advice - you can by-pass the lawyer thus cutting one layer of costs.

The way I see it, if you are resident in Portugal, in view of the Brussels IV rules, unless your 'old' will makes specific reference that you wish your estate to be governed by English (or other personal law), then your estate will fall into the Portuguese inheritance rules. Off course you may do nothing, but in the event of any dispute whatsoever will result in extra costs in handling the estate.

If are resident and your will does not conform to Portuguese rules, technically it could be ignored, and the estate subject to Portuguese interstate laws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
FWIW, I spoke to a PT lawyer yesterday and he was (I think deliberately) rather vague so as Tony suggests, probably the next step is to talk to my local notary and see what she says......... don't even know if she speaks English but I'll give it a try and will report back.

I guess the other source of info might be the Embassy but from previous experience, they tend not to answer email enquiries. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You consult a lawyer and he is vague - does he have a clue?
In his defence, I just bumped into him and asked if he knew anything about the new legislation so he wasn't able to check anywhere but that said, it wouldn't be in his interests to tell me I no longer need a lawyer to get the job done so he may have been being deliberately vague.
 

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Wills

Hi Travellingman,

Is this any help to you?

RONALD SWYER
English Solicitor

Wills, Estates and Trusts
There seems to be a common misconception that if you own a property in Portugal you need to make a Portuguese Will and that it is easier to deal with the property if you have one on the death of the owner.

This is in fact not true. If you are a foreigner owning property in Portugal, whether resident or not, the Portuguese Civil Code expressly states that on your death, it recognizes the “Law of the Nationality of the deceased person” so far as Inheritance Law is concerned.

Dealing with an English form of Will is no problem. We are authorised to issue Consular Declarations in respect of English law in so far as it relates to the provisions of the Will.
 
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