Can an overseas executor deal with a UK probate case?
An overseas executor dealing with the estate of someone who was British and had UK assets, will likely need a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration from the UK Probate Registry. We look at the process of an overseas executor dealing with a UK probate case.
Winding up someone’s affairs after their death is never easy. Add an international element to their estate, and it complicate matters further. Assets left in the UK, need to be liquidated and passed on to the estate’s beneficiaries.
What is a UK Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is a legal document giving executors the legal authority necessary to deal with a persons affairs after their death. Including selling their assets and distributing them in accordance with their Will. Where there is no Will for the UK assets, the personal representatives can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration instead.
When is UK probate needed?
In the case of a small UK estate, probate might not be needed. There is no exact definition of a small estate, but it is one that does not include property. Each bank has a limit above which they will ask to see a Grant of Probate before releasing funds. This will vary depending on the bank in question. It can be anything from £5,000 to £50,000.
A larger estate containing property or other valuable assets, requires a grant. If you are unsure whether a grant is needed, seek professional advice.
Obtaining a UK Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration
If the overseas executor obtains a grant in another country, it may be possible to have this resealed in the UK for use with UK asset holders.
If not, or if the overseas grant cannot be resealed, then a UK grant will need to be applied for. The first stage in dealing with this is to value the estate by obtaining a value for all of the assets and liabilities.
This figure is used to calculate whether any Inheritance Tax is payable. If the deceased was domiciled in the UK and Inheritance Tax is payable, it will be payable on all worldwide assets.
If a similar tax has been paid overseas, provide an official statement of this when accounting for the UK tax. This sum could be deducted from the amount of UK Inheritance Tax due. However it will depend on the country in question.
If Inheritance Tax is due, you need to write to HM Customs & Excise (HMRC) in the UK. Request an Inheritance Tax reference number from them.
A range of HMRC forms will need to be completed and Inheritance Tax paid.
Normally, around two to three weeks after the payment is made, an application can be made to the Probate Registry for a grant. It usually takes around three months for this to be issued.
Once you receive the grant, you can collect in the deceased’s assets and sell their property.
Help in dealing with UK assets
Calculating Inheritance Tax and obtaining a Grant of Probate can be complex, particularly if you are based overseas. Therefore you may ask a UK probate solicitor to deal with this on your behalf, if necessary. This includes:
- Obtaining a valuation of the UK assets and liabilities
- Calculating the amount of Inheritance Tax due
- Completing all necessary HMRC forms
- Arranging payment of Inheritance Tax from UK-held funds, where possible
- Applying for a UK Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration
- Finalising the administration of the UK estate
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