The UK system for dealing with probate is well established and straightforward. However complications can arise from the estates of those UK nationals who die whilst domiciled outside Britain, or those whose estate contained substantial assets held abroad upon their death. In these circumstances, the process for international probate will be used for estate administration.

At Oratto we have a number of high calibre member lawyers who are experienced in administering estates through international probate. They can work with you from the start to ensure smooth movement through a difficult time and help you remove any challenges to accessing assets abroad.

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Death whilst domiciled outside the UK

Emigration rates are climbing as more and more Britons choose to live abroad. However, many still leave assets within the UK or keep a British bank account. How probate is handled in these situations depends largely upon which country the deceased was living in at the time of their death.

Generally speaking, the probate court in Britain needs to provide a grant of probate in order for any assets to be released. The only case where this may not apply is when the estate is of a very low value.

For international probate in countries which are recognised under the UK Colonial Act (such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Singapore and St Lucia) the grant of probate issued by this county can be resealed in the UK courts. Resealing describes a procedure which, once completed, allows a foreign administrator or executive to collect the assets.

If the death takes place in a non-Commonwealth country, but the Will concerns worldwide, or UK assets alone, then the probate application can be processed in Britain. Again, if there is no valid Will then Letters of Administration can be processed through the UK courts.

If the testator died in the UK but had assets abroad, then their personal representatives (either executors or estate administrators) need to apply to that country's court for a copy of the grant of probate; usually referred to as a sealed and certified copy. They will also need to be cognisant of which tax rules apply and any other legalities.

What the UK court needs to see to process cases of international probate

    • Details of any assets
    • Valid ID from the executor
    • Signed authority from the administrator/executive
    • A certified and sealed copy of the Grant of Probate from the issuing court

Finding the right lawyer for your needs

Estate administration through international probate can be a complex process and it's important to seek legal advice early on. Oratto member probate lawyers can act to help you release any assets in a timely and constructive manner.

Contact us today and we can use our Oratto Match facility to suggest a number of expert lawyers with plenty of experience in international probate, so you can choose the one who will suit you best. Member solicitors from Oratto are best placed to start working on your behalf immediately, applying their knowledge to secure the best outcome for you.

Don't get caught up in legal complexities – let Oratto handle them for you.