Navigating the passing of a loved one and the processing of authenticating a will in probate court is challenging. However, the process seems even more complex when the will was not generated on American soil. Typically, when a family member discovers a will that was executed during their loved one's time abroad, the first assumption is that it's not valid, but this is not always the case.
Any legal system within the united states is only tasked with handling matters that affect a citizen or property within the country. For this reason, you can only have the will authenticated in a local probate court if there are U.S. assets listed in the will.
For instance, consider a deceased person who was a legal citizen of the United States at their time of death, but all the assets they listed on the will are in Spain. In this instance, the U.S. has no legal jurisdiction in Spain, and therefore, no say-so.
A will is intended to be a legal document that is recognizable in all parts of the world. To ensure this, you can expect that the will be scrutinized to verify that it is legal. For example, in the United States, any adult who is of a sound mind and not listed on the will can typically serve as a witness to a will.
Yet, in some countries, only a clerk of the court can sign as a witness to a will. Whatever the legal requirement is for the country where the will was drafted, a local court will only honor it if these guidelines have been followed.
Typically, incidents of foreign wills are the result of a person who spent some time living abroad and later moved back to the United States. They don't typically involve someone who was vacationing overseas and, on a whim, decided to execute a new will.
If the circumstances behind the will are similar to the latter example, there is a good chance the will won't be authenticated in a local court. These types of suspicious circumstances raise red flags with the court and bring into question whether or not the person signed under duress, especially if they already had a will created in the United States and the updates in the new will are drastic.
If your loved one has a will that was executed in a foreign country, you should speak with an attorney. An attorney will be able to help you determine if the will can be authenticated and how to move forward with the probate process. Visit websites like https://www.rmstoneattorney.com/ to get started.