What Is International Probate?

International probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate in more than one country. When an individual dies owning assets outside of England and Wales, in one or more countries, probate usually must be obtained in all the countries where the assets are located, which can complicate and lengthen the process.

Legislation regarding international probate in the UK

When a deceased person’s estate has assets in more than one country, it is necessary to deal with the different laws in the different jurisdictions. This means that probate will be needed in the UK as well as overseas, in the countries where the assets are situated.

Every jurisdiction has its own rules for probate and how assets should be handled. For example, English law states people are free to choose who they pass their estate to when they die, whereas German law states an individual must pass a share of their estate to surviving relatives.

International probate practioners are up-to-date with succession law and how this differs around the world, and this knowledge is vital for the successful administration of an estate with assets situated in more than one country.

Tax implications of international probate in the UK

International probate has tax implications and the rules are complex. It depends on the situation and it’s important you seek the advice of an international probate practitioner. As a guide, if the deceased person’s domicile (their permanent home) was abroad then inheritance tax is only paid on their UK assets.

From an inheritance viewpoint, if you are not a UK resident then normally there is no capital gains tax (CGT) to pay if you sell most of the assets in the UK, and only inheritance tax to pay if the assets you inherit are based in the UK. This is a general rule which may differ in your circumstances, if you are not sure it’s essential you take advice.

Role an International Probate Practitioner

International probate practitioners are able to assist families, friends and loved ones, with estate administration when the assets of the deceased person are situated in more than one country. International probate is often stressful and time consuming so using the services of an international probate practitioner will ensure the experience is as straightforward and stress-free as possible. More importantly, professional advice ensures the process is completed properly. There are many risks of being an executor and international probate adds a layer of complication and increases that level of risk.

International probate practitioners represent clients in cross-border transactions. Given the fact every country has its own laws for probate, handling cross-border estates is extremely complicated and requires a high level of specialist legal expertise to ensure the process is completed accurately and efficiently.

UK probate involving foreign property

When a person dies in the UK leaving foreign assets, it’s vital to identify which country’s laws apply to the foreign property in order to deal with its administration. It’s also important to confirm if the deceased person left a will or not as a will might have detailed instructions and information on the property abroad and the express wishes for what happens to it after they die.

Resealing a foreign grant of probate

The process of obtaining a resealed grant of probate depends on the location of where the deceased person lived and where their assets are situated. Resealing probate means to get it formally recognised by a probate registry in the UK. Certain countries and regions are protected by the Colonial Probate Acts which enables the resealing of a foreign grant of probate in England – the list includes Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Bahamas, St Lucia and Jamaica.

If a grant of probate has been obtained in one country covered by the Acts, then international law usually dictates the resealing of that grant in England and Wales.

The Benefits Of Working With International Probate Practitioners In The UK

International probate practitioners in the UK have an in-depth knowledge of both estate and tax laws governing England and Wales as well as countries around the world. It is this understanding and the ability to apply it to individual cases of international probate that ensure successful completion.

You need to know the local estate and tax laws in the relevant countries as well as how these laws interact with one another – and international probate practitioners are able to provide full guidance on proceedings.

Whether you want to complete probate yourself and simply want some guidance from international probate practitioners or you’d like international probate practitioners to handle the entire estate administration process on your behalf, by working with a probate professional you’ll benefit from the expertise, support and peace of mind that every step of the process will be completed accurately and timely.

Choosing An International Probate Lawyer or Practitioner UK

Qualifications for international probate practitioners UK

In addition to being a qualified practitioner in the UK, to be classified as an international probate practitioner, you need the specialist knowledge required. Be sure to check your potential international probate lawyer or practitioner has the relevant qualifications to take on your probate case.

Knowledge and experience of the international probate process

You want an international probate lawyer who has a solid track record for handling cross-border estates in the most accurate and efficient way possible. Your practitioner should be used to dealing with estates of various sizes in different countries around the world and with both UK estates with foreign assets and overseas estates with UK assets, to ensure a confident understanding of the tax implications and entire administration process for probate.


When it comes to experience, you want an international probate practitioner who has experience of handling estate administration in the country or countries that apply to the probate you are dealing with.

Language and knowledge of the country involved

Make sure the credentials of your international probate lawyer or practitioner match the demands of the cross-border estate of the deceased. This includes finding a specialist practitioner who can speak the language and understands the laws and culture of the country or countries where the deceased person’s assets are located. Or, if they don’t have the language or cultural knowledge ensure they have the relevant legal contacts in the country or countries in question.

The greater the understanding of the particular countries’ estate and tax laws, the smoother the process will be as the lawyer will be able to conduct the necessary transactions quickly and accurately for a successful conclusion. The Probate Network can help you to find a practitioner with the relevant skills.

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