English assets, overseas owner - resealing foreign grants of probate in England and Wales

20 March 2019

How to secure English assets* when there is a foreign grant of probate

When a non-UK domiciled person dies and they owned assets in England, English authorities or organisations may not recognise a foreign grant of probate (or letters of administration). How can the executor of the overseas will deal with the English asset?

The English Probate Registry can reseal a foreign grant provided the deceased was from a current or former Commonwealth country (a list can be found below**). This will give the executor named in the foreign grant the legal power to deal with the English asset.

What is the process?

If you instruct us to reseal a foreign grant, we will:

  • Prepare a letter of authority to be signed by the executor confirming that they agree for us to apply on their behalf.
  • Prepare a power of attorney to be signed by the executor if they wish us to administer the English asset once the re-sealed grant has been issued.
  • Prepare an Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) account; depending on the value of the estate, this will either be done using a simple form (IHT205) or the longer form (IHT400).
  • Submit the IHT account to HMRC and arrange for any IHT to be paid accordingly from the deceased’s funds so that the Revenue can issue the IHT receipt.
  • Submit an application to reseal the foreign grant to the English Probate Registry. The signed letter of authority will also be sent along with the original (or original court sealed) foreign grant. If the will is in a foreign language it will need to be translated into English in accordance with the court’s specific requirements.

The Probate Registry normally returns a re-sealed foreign grant of probate within 10 – 12 working days.

If you then instruct us to administer/collect in the English asset, we will liaise with the relevant organisation on your behalf using the resealed grant and the power of attorney.

What if the deceased is not from a Commonwealth country?

If the deceased is from a non-Commonwealth country, a separate grant in respect of their will/estate is necessary and the Probate Registry will need to be satisfied both on the issue of domicile*** and that the person applying for the grant is the proper person to apply on the basis of that proper law. An IHT account will need to be submitted as above.

This process can be time-consuming depending on the complexity of the estate and the domicile history of the deceased. We can provide reassurance in such circumstances and obtain the resealed foreign grant.

*English assets’ refer to assets both in England or Wales.

** List of current and former commonwealth countries and territories

  • Alberta
  • Antigua
  • Australian Capital Territory
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Botswana
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Columbia
  • Brunei
  • Cayman Islands
  • Christmas Islands
  • Cocos Islands
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands
  • Fiji
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Manitoba
  • Montserrat
  • New Brunswick
  • New Guinea Territory
  • New Hebrides
  • New South Wales
  • New Zealand
  • Newfoundland
  • Nigeria
  • Norfolk Island
  • North West Territories of Canada
  • Northern Territories of Australia
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Queensland
  • St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla
  • St Helena
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent
  • Saskatchewan
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • South Australia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Tasmania
  • Tortola (British Virgin Islands)
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia
  • Zambia 
  • Zimbabwe 

 

*** It will have to be shown that the deceased was domiciled in the non-commonwealth country. Domicile relates to where the deceased set up their permanent home. The Probate Registry will look at evidence submitted to determine the “proper” law governing the devolution of the deceased’s assets – other than English real estate which is covered by English Law in any event.

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