If you are based overseas and you are dealing with the estate of someone who was British and had UK assets, you are likely to need a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration from the UK Probate Registry. 

Winding up someone’s affairs after their death is never easy. If there is an international element to their estate, it can complicate matters further. If they left assets in the UK, then their personal representative will need to ensure that these are liquidated and passed on to the estate’s beneficiaries. 

What is a UK Grant of Probate? 

A Grant of Probate is a document that gives someone’s executors the legal authority necessary to deal with their affairs after their death. This includes selling their assets and distributing them in accordance with their Will. If the deceased did not leave a Will in respect of their UK assets, then their personal representatives can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration instead. 

When is UK probate needed? 

If the UK estate is a small 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 varies widely depending on the bank in question. It can be from £5,000 to £50,000. 

If an estate is larger than that or it contains property or other valuable assets, a grant will be needed. If you are not sure whether a grant is needed, we can advise you. 

Obtaining a UK Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration 

If an executor is obtaining 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 can be 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, you should provide an official statement of this when accounting for the UK tax. You may be able to deduct this sum from the amount of UK Inheritance Tax due, but this depends on the country in question. 

If Inheritance Tax is due, you will need to write to HM Customs & Excise (HMRC) in the UK and ask them for an Inheritance Tax reference number.  

A range of HMRC forms will need to be completed and Inheritance Tax paid.  

Around two to three weeks after the payment has been made, an application can be made to the Probate Registry for a grant. It will usually take 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 

The process of calculating Inheritance Tax and obtaining a Grant of Probate can be complex, particularly if you are based overseas. A UK probate solicitor will be able to deal with this on your behalf, if necessary, to include: 

  • 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 

If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at rob@pembrokewillwriters.com