Probate in England for clients in USA
How do I get UK Probate for an American Citizen?
Are you a US based lawyer, executor or attorney trying to deal with the estate of a US citizen who died with assets in the UK? If so, we can help.
You may already be well underway with obtaining the Letters of Testamentary in the US. Unfortunately, UK institutions (such as banks or shares registrars) will not recognise Letters of Testamentary and while UK Probate courts will ‘reseal’ certain probate documents issued by some countries, they will not reseal a US Letters of Testamentary. In most cases, then, a separate document called a Grant of Probate will be needed to deal with the UK assets of someone who has passed away.
A Grant of Probate is the British equivalent of Letters of Testamentary. In some cases a Grant of Probate may not be required; if the assets in the UK are not extensive it may that a bank/investment company will agree to transfer the assets without the need for any formal Court document. We would check on your behalf whether a Grant was required before proceeding.
How to get a Grant
Once you have established that a Grant is required, you will need to apply to a UK Probate Court. The procedure is this:
- The Court will want confirmation that the US Will (if there is one) is admissible to proof in England and Wales. This in effect means that they want confirmation that the Will is considered valid in America. Sending a copy of the Will and a copy of the Letters of Testamentary will satisfy this requirement in part, but they will also want a legal document called an ‘affidavit’ signed by an expert confirming that the Will is valid in accordance with the laws of the State where the deceased lived either at the time the Will was made, or when they died.
- The UK Grant will then be issued to the US executor.
- Where there is no Will, the procedure is slightly different but we can assist with this. In these cases the Grant may be issued to a next of kin.
Things to consider
If you are someone who has assets in the UK (or you are advising beneficiaries who are inheriting property in the UK), consider signing a separate Will to deal exclusively with UK assets. This will make the process easier for your family when the time comes.
Inheritance tax may be payable if the UK estate exceeds the tax ‘nil rate allowance’ in force at the date of death. Currently, the nil rate allowance is £325,000. If you are dealing with an estate where you suspect that there may be UK inheritance tax to pay, please contact us for further advice.
You will be required to submit an inheritance tax account whether or not inheritance tax is payable. You are legally responsible for accurately valuing the UK estate. We can help you instruct suitable professional valuers (eg real estate agents or stockbrokers) if necessary.
An American client was delighted with our hard work:
Thank you for your hard work in getting this straitened out. You took the time to find the best solution rather than a cookie cutter, one size fits all, case. I really do appreciate it!
Please contact us on 01144 1458 850 146 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you require assistance in obtaining Probate in England.
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