Many foreign nationals living in Japan have assets overseas. In some cases, these assets were acquired before coming to Japan, and in other cases, the assets were built up while living and working in Japan. In some cases, the foreign national keeps the assets abroad with the expectation of returning to his or her home country at some point; while in other cases, the assets are left overseas for a higher ROI or asset diversification.
In any event, once a person dies, the inheritance process begins, and if the deceased had assets in Japan and overseas, then it is necessary to go through all the inheritance procedures both in Japan and abroad. As we explained in a Kobe Legal Partners’ video, even though the inheritance procedures involving the Japanese property of foreign nationals is troublesome, it is even more complex when the overseas assets of a foreign national are involved.
With the increasing number of foreign nationals living long-term in Japan and the increasing number of international marriages, we are frequently asked to handle inheritance procedures involving foreign assets. However, this can be expensive and time-consuming, since the cooperation and assistance of foreign experts is likely to be necessary.
We believe that it is a good idea to make a will to facilitate as smooth an inheritance process as possible. However, just making a will is not always enough. This is because a will made in Japan may not necessarily be processed smoothly overseas, and conversely, a will made overseas may not necessarily be processed smoothly in Japan. The best thing to do in this situation is to make one will in Japan that covers assets in Japan and a separate will in the foreign country where the foreign assets are located.
By way of an example, one of the international inheritance matters that Kobe Legal Partners handled smoothly involved the inheritance of a Swiss national. He had left one will covering his assets in Japan and a Swiss will covering his Swiss assets that was consistent with his Japanese will. He appointed a Swiss lawyer as his executor. We were able to proceed with the inheritance procedures for the Japanese property using the will made in Japan, and for the property in Switzerland, we contacted the executor in Switzerland, who was able to quickly resolve the inheritance procedures in Switzerland. If you are in Japan, there can always be a certain degree of anxiety not knowing how smoothly the procedures are going in a foreign country and how long it will take. However, in this case, these concerns were allayed because the family had actually met the Swiss executor, and consequently was able to wait without too much worry.
Thus, if you have property both in Japan and abroad, there is a great advantage to having your will prepared in consultation with a trusted professional in Japan and also in the country where your property is located.
Kobe Legal Partners welcomes the opportunity to consult with foreign nationals having assets both in Japan and abroad about their wills. Please do not hesitate to contact us!