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Expat Wills

Domicile

Domicile Confirmation

Why is determining your Domicile Important

So, what is domicile? Domicile is essentially a legal concept which is also recognised in those countries who have inherited their legal system from Britain, and that includes the USA . It is something everyone has, that one is born with, and is hard to change. Domicile is normally determined at birth, and for UK purposes in most cases it is inherited from one's father. It might not be the country in which one was born, but the country which one's father considered his permanent home. In the case of a person who was illegitimate or whose parent's divorced during his or her minority, there may be different factors to be considered.

Your domicile of origin is that of your legal father at the time of your birth (or, if there was no legal father then alive, that of your mother). A person's domicile of origin can be changed to a domicile of choice, by moving on a permanent basis to a new jurisdiction, creating binding ties with it and severing ties with the domicile of origin.

Unless you can show that this has happened, there is a presumption that your domicile of origin still applies.

Domicile the place where a person has his/her permanent principal home to which, whenever he/she is absent, he/she returns or intends to return.

In many cases the final decision on whether or not a domicile of choice has been adequately evidenced is not made until death and this can make it difficult to plan one's affairs and arrange the tax-efficient distribution of assets.

Domicile of origin

You normally acquire a domicile of origin from your father when you are born. It need not be the country in which you are born. For example, if you are born in France while your father is working there, but his permanent home is in the UK, your domicile of origin is in the UK.

Domicile of choice

You have the legal capacity to acquire a new domicile (a domicile of choice) when you reach age 16. To do so, you must broadly leave your current country of domicile and settle in another country. You need to provide strong evidence that you intend to live there permanently or indefinitely. Living in another country for a long time, although an important factor, is not enough in itself to prove you have acquired a new domicile.

If a person leaves their original home country, the acquisition of a domicile of choice depends both upon residence in the country in question and the requisite intention to remain there, permanently or indefinitely. A domicile of choice is lost by an individual by leaving the country in question and giving up the intention of making it his permanent home.

Usually if domiciled individual leaves his domicile of origin, never intending to return, he may acquire a domicile of choice in the new country in which he settles provided he forms the intention to settle in that country permanently or indefinitely.

The intention for the purposes of establishing a domicile of choice is to a large extent, based on the evidence.