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Commence a Will Contest Claim: Jurisdiction of overseas property

A son who lives in Australia is enquiring about his father’s estate, who died several months

ago in France without a Will.

The father had moved to France some years ago, and was single when he died, but left a

couple of flats.

He wanted to know what his inheritance rights may be, assuming that there was no Will.

As the father was domiciled in France, meaning that this was his long-term home where he

lived with no intention of resuming living in Australia, it is clear that the assets will pass

under French law.

If the father did in fact have a partner, the partner will probably have an option of taking full

ownership in a share of part of the assets, and the balance will be held on behalf of the

children in Australia.

If there was no partner, then all of it will be held on behalf of the children in Australia.

He will need to obtain a lawyer, and as he has no money, he will need a no win/no fee lawyer

or other lawyer who can structure a financial arrangement for the fees to enable him to collect

his inheritance.

Comments by Terry Johansson, Specialist Wills and Estates Lawyer, CWPL

In all applications to contest a Will it is important to know which jurisdiction (place to sue)

apply. The laws of a person’s domicile, which is the place of their habitual residence, normally

deals with most claims, as that is the place where these claims can be brought.

However if someone owns real estate in another jurisdiction, the laws of that country will

usually determine whether or not a person can bring an application to contest a Will: if the

deceased was not domiciled in that foreign county, it is unlikely that anyone can contest a will or

contest any Intestacy Rules that may apply.