International Wills: A Welcomed Change in Legislation

A person’s final will can be a complex document to create and where there are assets or beneficiaries in another country, this raises further complications not only when drafting a will but also for the Executor when finalising a person’s estate.

In an effort to alleviate this difficulty often faced by the public and the legal profession, on 10 September 2014 Australia became a signatory to the Unidroit Convention providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973 (the “Convention”). The Convention will come into force on 10 March 2015 and seeks to provide uniformity between signatory countries as to the appropriate form of an international will.

To correspond with its recent international obligations the Queensland Government has amended the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) to include a Part 2, Division 6A – International Wills and a Schedule 3 (the “Amendments”). The Amendments will come into force on 10 March 2015.

The essential requirements for making an international will under the new legislation will be the same as a will under the current Queensland legislation however, the following additional requirements will apply:

There must be a third witness to an international will. The third witnesses is to be an authorised person which under the Amendments will include an Australian legal practitioner, a public notary or a person authorised pursuant to the legislation of another country who is party to the Convention.


The authorised person must complete a witness certificate to attach to the will confirming the international will requirements have been satisfied. The form of the witness certificate to be used is included in the Amendments as Schedule 3.

Where an international will is made in accordance with these requirements, there can be no argument that the will is invalid to deal with property in another country if that country has similarly adopted the international will law.

If you require advice to establish an international will enforceable in Australia and another country where you hold assets, please contact McLaughlins Lawyers Wills and Estates department for assistance.