Dealing with Foreign Assets in Probate

Nadia Rimmer
Nadia Morgan
Associate Solicitor Advocate

If you’re dealing with an Estate that has assets outside of England and Wales, or you live abroad and want to apply for Probate in the UK, things can get a little complicated.

The rules and process will all depend on the country the Estate and assets are located in and whether or not the person who died left a Will.

Applying for Probate and administering an Estate can feel daunting as there’s a lot to do when someone dies. If you’d like help with Probate, our Full Probate Service will deal with everything for you, or we can just apply for the Grant of Probate on your behalf.

Each of these can be tailored to suit your individual requirements. Get in touch with our Probate Solicitors today for free initial legal advice.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

If the Deceased Lived Abroad before They Died

First, you need to establish where your loved one’s permanent residence was before they died. This will determine which country’s law applies to the Probate process and who will inherit their Estate.

If they left behind a valid Will, they should have included all assets both in the UK and overseas.

Usually, the law in England and Wales decides that immoveable assets, such as property and land, are handled according to the law of the country where the assets are located. Meanwhile movable assets like bank accounts are handled according to the law of the country where your loved one resided.

All countries will have different Probate laws, and it will usually be down to individual banks and financial institutions who hold the assets how they approach dealing with them. If you’re dealing with assets in more than one country, there can sometimes be a conflict of laws. This is why it’s always best to get legal advice when dealing with a cross-border Estate.

For a detailed breakdown of the Probate process in England and Wales, see Probate Process Explained.

If there are Foreign Assets

Any assets located abroad need to be valued, with the estimated value being from the date on which the person died. Some assets holders, such as a bank, may ask for proof of the valuation before giving you the requirements for handling the asset.

If you’re dealing with a cross-border Estate (meaning assets are located in more than one country) this can get more complex.

You’ll need to apply for a Grant of Probate to get the legal authority to deal with the Estate. If you’ve already obtained an English Grant of Probate, then some countries might accept this as it makes the process much quicker and cheaper. But it will be down to the asset holder whether or not they accept the English Grant of Probate.

In some cases, you might also need to obtain a Grant of Probate in the country where the assets are located.

Here’s an example of an Executor we helped who was dealing with an Estate and beneficiaries in different countries.

Applying for Probate in the UK if You Live Overseas

As long as the Estate you’re dealing with is in England or Wales, you can usually apply for Probate in the UK, even if you live overseas. But you might come across some challenges, such as:

      • Slower postal services when sending documents between the UK and the country you live in
      • Increased costs from sending documents e.g. via tracked international post
      • Different tax costs for your inheritance
      • Valuing the Estate assets – Someone will have to visit the property to value all the assets and make an inventory.

Our Full Probate Service can provide this service for you.

If the Estate you’re dealing with is outside of England and Wales, you’ll need to instead follow the Probate requirements of the country where the Estate is located.

Help from a Probate Solicitor

The Probate process can be complex enough without the added difficulty of foreign assets. Our Probate Solicitors can take this pressure off your shoulders, and help you with as much or as little as you need us to. Whether you’d just like help with applying for a Grant of Probate or you’d like us to handle the full Estate administration, we’re here for you.

For free legal advice call our Probate Solicitors

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