If you are dealing with the estate of a loved one who was a UK national with assets abroad, or a foreign national with UK assets, our international probate team can assist in the process.
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In the UK, after someone has died there is a legal process undertaken to administer the estate. This includes collecting information about the assets owned by the person who has passed away, paying any inheritance tax and other debts that may be due and to then call in and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. This process is referred to as Probate, and it is undertaken by the Executor when there is a will, or the Administrator when there is no will. The probate process has varying stages, but the most important document is the Grant of Probate issued by the Probate Registry, which is a UK court. It is this document that will be required if the deceased left assets in the UK. It is also known as a Grant of Representation in England or a Grant of Confirmation in Scotland.
Where a person dies owning assets in two or more countries, it is frequently necessary for probate or the equivalent document, to be obtained in both or all countries where the assets are situated. For example, if a person dies domiciled in Holland holding assets in England and Holland, it will be necessary to go through two separate procedures to release the assets. In Holland, the beneficiaries of the Dutch estate will need to obtain a Certificate of Inheritance to enable the Dutch assets to be released. A separate Grant of Probate, or Letters of Administration if there is no Will, will need to be obtained in England to secure the release or transfer of the English assets.
When dealing with estates where there is a foreign element, the process to collect assets does vary significantly depending upon a variety of factors. It is necessary to establish the domicile of the person who has died, the country in which they died and to determine whether any formal legal process has been undertaken in that country. International probate happens when the deceased lived in one country but owned assets elsewhere. This applies to:
The liability for inheritance tax in the UK is dependant on the domicile of the person who has died. Generally, a person’s domicile is where they have their permanent home. Every person can only have one permanent home at any given time. HMRC will take various factors into account when deciding on a person’s domicile, including residence, business interests, family and social interests, ownership of property as well as any will and power of attorney.
Any person who is UK domiciled will be liable for inheritance tax on worldwide assets. Any person who is not UK domiciled will only be liable for inheritance tax on UK assets.
Even if you are not domiciled in the UK under general law, HMRC will treat you as domiciled in the UK for inheritance tax (“IHT”) if at the date of your death:
The different processes, legal requirements and tax obligations vary to a huge extent in every country and can mean that executors are required to go to huge time and expense to get the estate dealt with. Kwil can assist you in the following:
The person who has died was domiciled in the UK but had assets abroad:
It is becoming increasingly common for people to own assets outside of the UK. Many people have holiday homes abroad and also bank accounts. Kwil can assist in completing the paperwork for the application for probate to include the foreign elements of the estate that HMRC will require to process the application.
The person who has died was domiciled outside of the UK but has assets in the UK:
In this case, even if the assets in the UK are small, an Inheritance Tax return usually has to be completed, including the supplemental pages relating to foreign domicile.
If the person who has died was resident in a former commonwealth country recognised by the UK’s Colonial Probates Act, then an application can be made to “reseal” the grant of representation obtained in that country. This involves an application being made to the UK court to reseal the overseas grant of representation and the will. Countries recognised by the Colonial Probates Act include New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, St, Lucia, Jamaica and the Bahamas. This means that a separate application for a UK grant is not required and it is a significantly faster process.
Unfortunately, a grant of probate from Ireland cannot be resealed in the UK and an application for a UK grant of probate would have to be applied for. Kwil is able to assist you with this.
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