Write an Expatriate Last Will and Testament

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MyExpatWill™ - Write an Expatriate Last Will and Testament

How to write a legal UK Will when living abroad


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This is NOT just a do-it-yourself legal will kit.

  • Today, it is common for people to have assets in multiple countries, or for people to move around the world, and continue to own a house in their home country.

    Your nationality, residency, citizenship and location of your beneficiaries is not as relevant as the location of your assets. We recommend that you prepare a Will for each country in which you hold assets. This is where the MyExpatWill™ service becomes invaluable.

    If you have property and other assets in different countries or now live overseas, then our MyExpatWill™ service is for you. We are the only online service that allows you to prepare a Last Will and Testament for assets held in the UK, Canada or the US when you are living in a different country. Or you may have moved to one of those countries and already have a Will in place for your previous home, in which case our service will work also for you.

    Our MyExpatWill™ service helps you to prepare a Will that deals exclusively with your assets in England and Wales, or North America, when you are living in any other country in the world. It can work alongside any Will that you may have written for your new home.

    If you live in South Africa, but need to prepare a Will to cover property in Canada or the US or the UK, you can also use the MyExpatWill™ service to cover those assets.

You cannot include foreign assets in an existing Will

Your assets in each country need to go through the probate system in the country in which the asset is located. And to do this, they must be described in a Last Will and Testament that is written under the laws of that country.

Different countries have different probate, tax and inheritance laws. Your Executor must be granted to act as the estate administrator in each country to deal with the assets in each country. The MyExpatWill™ service allows you to do this for assets held in the UK, Canada and the US.

We offer an Expat Wills service, to support situations where you have assets in multiple countries, or assets held in a country where you are not residing.
For example:
  • If you are living in South Africa and have South Africa assets, but you also have assets in the U.S., you can use the MyExpatWillz™ service to create your U.S. Will for your U.S. assets.
  • If you are a South African citizen living abroad, and need a Will to cover your UK. assets, you can use the MyExpatWill™ service to create a Will whether or not you have a Will in your country of residence.
  • If you are new to South Africa, have assets in another country and already have a Will in place for that country, you can use the MyExpatWill™ service to create a Will for your South Africa assets.

Why is this different to other online Will services?

You must specifically use an Expat Will service if you have assets in multiple countries or a country in which you are not living. If you use a standard Will service, there is a danger that it will cancel any other Will that you may have written for assets in other countries. Our Expat Will service deals exclusively with your assets in the UK, Canada, or in the US and does not compromise any other Will that you may have written.

Why don't I just order a do-it-yourself Will kit?

Blank form DIY Will kits are generally very poor. They are not written specific to country laws and not updated to reflect changes in the law. At we continuously ensure that our legal documents are up to date with the latest changes in the law.

There are many other limitations to blank form kits. Read what makes us better.

Writing a Will whilst living abroad used to be difficult

We have removed the barriers to preparing a Will for your UK, Canadian or US assets when you are living in another country. Before our Expat Will service, you would have to work with a lawyer licensed to practice law in the country in which you hold the assets. This would require you to travel to that country and arrange an appointment with a lawyer when you get there. If you ever needed to update your Will, you would have to travel back to that lawyer's office to make the changes to your Will.

With the power of the Internet, you can create these documents yourself, from anywhere in the world, on a computer, smartphone or tablet. We guide you through the nine steps to prepare your Expat Will. The whole process will take about 20 minutes. Each section is accompanied by plain language help text. Once you have answered the questions, we create a custom document that should then be printed and signed in the presence of two witnesses to make it a fully legal Expatriate Last Will and Testament.

Updating your Will

Before, updating your Will was difficult. Particularly if you were not living in the same country as your assets. You would have to pay for a lawyer every time, and more importantly you would have to arrange to attend a lawyer's office to make your changes. Usually, the time and expense was such a barrier that people let their Wills become obsolete.

At, you can make as many updates as you wish as long as you have an active membership. You simply login to your account with your unique User ID and Password, make the change, print your new document, and then sign this in the presence of two witnesses. If you have a change in personal or financial circumstances, or there is a change to anybody named in your Will, you can now keep your document up-to-date very easily.

Working with an estate planning lawyer

Our Will writing service for the UK, Canada and the US was developed in collaboration with top estate planning lawyers. Since 2001, many of our Wills have been through the probate process, and not once have we heard of an issue with one of our Wills. However, you may have an unusual circumstance or you may be trying to do something a little different with your Will. If you are unsure, we offer a review of your Will for completeness and consistency by one of our legal team representatives.

Write your Will today

Most people do not have a Will, even if they are living in the UK and all of their assets are in the UK. For people who are living in a different country to their assets, it has traditionally been an even more difficult process. You may feel that the distribution of your estate is obvious, but a Will is still vital. It names an Executor who has the responsibility to carry out the instructions in your Will, and also describes the powers that this person has been granted to administer your estate.

You may have thought that writing a Will was going to be expensive, and certainly this used to be the case. But now, for just R499 and 30 minutes of your time, you can make sure that the instructions for your estate are made clear.

If you die without a Will, the courts will distribute your assets for you. This distribution plan is probably not going to match your wishes. With an Expatriate Will, then the decisions are in your hands.

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MyExpatWill™- Further Questions

If you live in the same country as all of your assets, then you should use the MyWill™ service. If you have assets in another country, or if you have assets in many different countries, then you should use the MyExpatWill™ service. Particularly if you have assets in the UK, Canada or US.
Everybody needs a Will. It doesn't matter how large or small your estate may be. It doesn't matter how simple your plans are for the distribution of your estate. You need a Will.

If you are living outside of the UK, but have assets in the UK, you need an Expat Will. If you now live in South Africa but also have assets in another country where you have already written another Will, then the MyExpatWill™ service will also work for you.

You should not postpone the preparation of your Will for a more suitable time. Our lives change all the time. We travel to different countries, our family situation changes, and our assets change. You should prepare your Expat Will and then update it whenever your circumstances change.
We have designed our service to cover most situations and over the years we have expanded the reach of our service to cover the vast majority of circumstances. However, there are certain times when our service may not work for you. These include:
  • If you are planning to disinherit your spouse or children.
  • If you feel that your Will may be challenged on the basis of your mental capacity.
  • If you are under the age of 18.
  • If you have complicated business investments or a complex estate and feel that you would benefit from some advice on estate planning and tax reduction.
  • If you need to provide for long term medical care for a dependent like a child with special needs.
  • If you think that somebody may challenge your Expatriate Will in court or you have any other doubts about your situation.
If any of these circumstances apply to you, or you have any other doubts, please email us and we can provide some clarification. You may be better served by an estate planning lawyer.
Assets in each country will have to go through the probate process within that country (or the equivalent). A probate court in South Africa will only accept a Will written under South Africa laws.

Your Executor would have to be granted the authority by the probate courts to act as your estate administrator and gather up your assets. They can only do this if your Will is probated, and the Will must be written under local laws. Sometimes banks require that a Will be probated again under the laws of their local jurisdiction. This process can be very lengthy and expensive.

We recommend that you prepare a Will for each country in which you hold assets, and name an Executor who is best placed to handle each group of assets.
The Uniform International Wills Act was developed in the 1970's to address the difficulties in preparing Wills when an estate was distributed across different countries. But the law was not adopted by every country, and the guidelines included in the law were vague.

Trying to prepare an "International Will" is risky, and your Will is probably not going to be well written for each local jurisdiction. We recommend that you prepare a separate Will for each country in which you hold assets.
Our service allows you to prepare a Will to cover assets in the UK, in Canada and in the US. It also gives you one year of unlimited updates to your document, so you do not have to complete your Will in one sitting. Our full price list is available on our Products & Prices page.
The MyExpatWill™ service can be used to prepare a fully legal Last Will and Testament that complies with the laws of England and Wales, Canada and the US (except Louisiana).

To make your document a legally accepted Last Will and Testament, you must download and print it, and then sign it in the presence of two adult witnesses. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in the Will, nor can they be the spouse of a beneficiary. They should not be in a position to gain anything from the contents of the Will. You should gather your two witnesses in a room, and then each of you will sign the document in turn in each other's presence.

An online version of your document is stored within your account, but this is for your convenience only. It simplifies the process of updating your Will and ensures that your document always reflects your current circumstances. Every time you make an update, you must download and print the document, and then sign the new version in the presence of two witnesses.

Only printed and originally signed documents are accepted by probate courts. Photocopied, scanned, uploaded or digitally signed versions of your document are not legally acceptable.

More details on the process to be followed for creating a legal document are included in the help text of the MyExpatWill™ service. If these instructions are followed, then your Expatriate Will is a legally binding document.
There are many reasons why you may need to update your Will. Most people know that a change in their own personal or financial circumstances would at least prompt a review of their Will. But also if there is a change in circumstance for anybody named in your Will. For example, if your alternate Executor is taken ill, or your chosen guardian moves away, or one of your beneficiaries receives a windfall, or a charity becomes an important influence in your life.

If you get married, your Will is automatically cancelled. If you have a new child, you should name a guardian for that child and set up a trust. If you get divorced, any mention of your ex spouse is ignored in the Will. You should definitely review and update your Will for any significant life events like these.

At, you can create a membership, and this allows you to make unlimited updates to all of the documents in your account. You can manage your membership year-by-year, or as a multi-year purchase for 5 years, 10 years, 25 years or lifetime.
You are not required to complete your documents all in one sitting, so you can get started today, and continue to work on your Expat Will over the course of several weeks or months. There are certainly some questions that may need extra thought and even consultation with family and loved ones. It is possible to step through the service in as little as 20 minutes, but for some people it can take much longer.
Although it is legally possible to create a joint Will with one document serving two people, it is not supported at through our Expat Will service.

Joint Wills used to be created with the intention of saving time and expense involved in creating two separate Wills. Most lawyers practicing today, however, avoid creating joint Wills because of the awkwardness and difficulties that can arise in interpreting their terms, as it can leave the surviving partner bound by terms that make no sense once the first partner has passed away.

Using the service at, we encourage each partner to prepare their own Will individually. You would name each other as your main beneficiary, and then have an alternate plan in case you were both involved in a common accident. This is called a Mirror Will and is supported through our service.

There is no advantage to having one document and many disadvantages. You need not pay the full amount twice, however. After your first order, you will receive a reference code for a 40% discount on your second purchase, so the second document will cost R299. (The first one is R499.)
No. The law does not require you to use the services of a lawyer to prepare your Will. Everybody has the legal right to prepare their own Will.

Lawyers provide legal advice, and some people may need to draw upon the training of a legal professional. But most people do not need legal advice to prepare their Will, particularly with the advance in the capabilities of online Will writing services like the one at
When you step through the Expat Will service, every page has help available in a "Common Questions" section. In addition, most data fields have context-specific help that pops up with more information.

If you get stuck at all, or have any further questions about the use of the service, please contact us at [email protected].


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