Resealing a Foreign Grant of Probate

Resealing a Foreign Grant of Probate in England and Wales

When someone dies overseas but has assets located in England or Wales, the personal representative must obtain legal authority to manage those assets.

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When someone dies overseas but has assets located in England or Wales, the personal representative must obtain legal authority to manage those assets. One option is “resealing” which turns a foreign grant of probate into a legal document in the UK.

Resealing can be used for grants that have been issued in countries that have, or had, a link with the Commonwealth. It’s a slightly faster and simpler process than having to apply for probate anew and allows executors to get on with managing the deceased’s property and possessions in the UK.

What is resealing grant of probate?

A grant of probate is an official document that allows a personal representative to manage the money, property and assets left behind when someone dies and distribute them according to their will. The grant will be “sealed” in the country in which it is issued.

In the UK, banks, pension companies and other asset holders will not accept a foreign grant of probate. The personal representatives will need to hold an English grant of probate to deal with assets here.

Resealing is the process by which the Probate Registry, which is part of HM Courts Service, puts a new seal on a foreign grant of probate, turning it into a legal document here. The personal representative can then use the resealed grant to deal with assets in England and Wales.

Can you reseal grants from any country?

Resealing is permitted by the Colonial Probates Act and generally applies to the old Commonwealth countries, including ones that have obtained their independence. There are 70 jurisdictions altogether, including countries like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

As long as the original grant of probate (or equivalent) is issued in one of the countries named in the Act, it should be possible to reseal it in England and Wales.

How do you reseal foreign probates in England and Wales?

The first step is to prepare and file an Inheritance Tax (IHT) return with HM Revenue and Customs and pay the required taxes if any are due. These forms are necessary even if there’s no tax to pay.

Evaluating the correct tax liability can be complicated when dealing with assets in more than one country. It’s usual to instruct a solicitor to deal with the reseal and the IHT forms, so you don’t miss exemptions you may be entitled to or make a mistake.

Once the tax returns are done, your solicitor will make an application for resealing to the Probate Registry. A number of documents are required for the application, including:

  • The original foreign grant or an official court sealed copy
  • An official copy of the death certificate
  • An official copy of the will
  • Receipt for Inheritance Tax from HMRC if appropriate
  • A letter of authority signed by the estate’s foreign representatives confirming that the solicitor is authorised to act on their behalf
  • Formal translations of documents that are not in English

Your solicitor will guide you through the process, explain the paperwork and advise on any potential issues that may arise.

Currently, there is a court fee of £273 for estates valued over £5,000 in the UK.

How can Osbornes help?

We are a leading private wealth practice with expertise in administering complex, cross-border estates. We can:

  • Advise whether resealing is appropriate and provide alternative options
  • Advise whether UK Inheritance Tax will be payable and prepare the necessary returns
  • Prepare and manage the Probate Registry application on your behalf

If you would like to discuss next steps or request a quote, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

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