Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention on International Wills

July 2, 1986

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will. I also transmit for the information of the Senate the report of the Department of State with respect to this Convention.

The purpose of the Convention is to enable testators to make wills in a form that will be self-proving in all countries where the Convention is in force. The Convention does not abolish or modify existing laws on testamentary succession, nor does it attempt to unify the formal requirements for executing a will that already exist in the various systems of national law. Rather, it provides, alongside and in addition to the traditional forms, another new form that testators may use -- the ``international will.''

With the increasing mobility of persons and goods, there has been a growing awareness of the need for a form of will that will be widely accepted, regardless of where the testator may be domiciled or residing or where his property may be located at the time of his death. American probate law experts participated actively in the preparatory studies for the Convention, which was adopted at a diplomatic conference hosted by the United States at Washington in 1973. Ratification of the Convention by the United States has been recommended by the American College of Probate Counsel and the American Bar Association, as well as by the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Private International Law, on which leading national legal organizations are represented.

Countries ratifying or acceding to the Convention are required to introduce into their domestic law the rules regarding an international will that are set forth in an annex to the Convention. To give full effect to the Convention in the United States, implementing legislation will be required at the Federal level. Legislation will also be required in those States of the United States that wish to make it possible for testators to execute international wills in their jurisdiction. The distinctions between the two types of legislation are described in the accompanying report from the Department of State. As noted in that report, four States have already adopted the Uniform International Wills Act, in anticipation of United States ratification of the Convention, and it is expected that many more States will do so once ratification is assured. The United States instrument of ratification of the Convention will be deposited only after the necessary Federal legislation is enacted.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Convention and give its advice and consent to ratification.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

July 2, 1986.