More people than ever are leaving assets in foreign countries when they die, which can make estate administration complex. If you are globally mobile, or have property overseas, how can you plan ahead? Steve Wright, from our Estates team, explores what to consider.
One of the first considerations is to determine which country is your permanent home or country of domicile. If you are domiciled in the UK, Inheritance Tax will be charged on all of your assets, wherever they are located. If you are domiciled elsewhere then you may face Inheritance Tax on your UK assets as well as tax in other countries too. All of the assets in your estate then need to be valued.
At this stage, foreign asset holders can be approached and asked what they need from the executor, such as a certified copy of the death certificate or Grant of Probate.
A UK Will may specifically refer to foreign property, or there may be a Will made in the country where the property is located. If there isn’t a Will, then the property would pass under the rules of succession that apply in the country where the property is.
Some countries may need to see the UK Grant of Probate which would sometimes be resealed in that country. Alternatively, it may be a requirement that probate is also obtained in the country where the asset is held.
The need for expert advice
Administering an estate which includes foreign assets can be lengthy and complicated. The best way to ensure things go as smoothly as possible is to seek professional advice and draw up the relevant Wills to cover all assets. Some countries may have laws which clash with those of the UK; in France and Spain property will pass to specific heirs regardless of the terms of any Will. Planning ahead can make a huge difference, and avoid any nasty surprises.
If you would like to speak with one of our professional team further on this matter, then please do not hesitate to contact us.
Steve Wright, Head of Estates