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UK-based expats can be unaware of risks to wealth and inheritance, says Withers


Families who move to the UK from abroad are, on average, more prepared for future events than UK nationals, but are also often unaware of how they can be affected by UK inheritance and tax rules.

That’s according to a survey of members of UK expat organisation FOCUS by law firm Withers.
FOCUS provides resources and information to international professionals relocating to the UK.  Withers surveyed 70 FOCUS members, as well as speaking in-depth to a number on their experience of moving to the UK, their estate planning, and the concerns that drive them to prepare for the future.
“Our survey found that 35 per cent of the respondents had a will, which is above the 30 per cent of the UK population estimated to have a will in place.  Of course, it makes sense for people leaving their home country to get their domestic affairs in order, but this still leaves a majority of people who make the move without writing a will,” says Withers partner Penny Williams.
Some 80 per cent of the FOCUS members were married and over 75 per cent had children. 
“Marriage and starting a family are the two events which most commonly cause people to consider making a will.  Certainly, the FOCUS members we spoke to stressed that their existing planning, and the preparations they wanted to make, were driven by their desire to protect and provide for their families.  The best way to do this is through legally binding arrangements,” adds Penny.
Around half of the FOCUS members with wills had ones that were drawn up under English law. 
“For the half without an English will, international agreements exist which can deal with the administration of estates under wills made in other countries.  However, for those without any will at all, intestacy rules come into play, and these are unlikely to deal with the estate as the individual would wish or expect, or in a tax efficient way,” says Penny.
Many professionals moving to the UK are offered some form of support by their employer to assist with practical, cultural and financial questions. 
“However, the FOCUS members we interviewed were almost unanimous in stating that the support they had received from their companies and consultants had not been comprehensive enough, and that issues like getting expert tax planning advice were essential.  FOCUS is excellent at helping people find the right advisors to arrange their finances properly, though it is advisable to do this in advance of moving,” says Penny.

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