Resealing Foreign Grants
Sometimes a person may live abroad but own assets (such as bank accounts, shares, premium bonds or a property) in England and Wales. What happens when that person dies – how will the assets in England and Wales be administered and passed on to the deceased’s beneficiaries?
In most cases, in order to be able to administer the assets in England and Wales the deceased’s personal representatives will either need to obtain an English grant of representation or reseal a foreign grant which may have already issued in the jurisdiction in which the deceased lived.
The resealing process can be used for grants which have issued in many different jurisdictions, most of which have had or retain a link with the Commonwealth. A list of the applicable jurisdictions can be found in the Colonial Probates Act Application Order 1965. The resealing of South African grants is also permitted even though South Africa does not feature on the list. A resealed grant can be used in exactly the same way as an English grant.
The resealing process
A resealed grant can be issued to:
- the person entrusted with the estate administration at the place where the deceased died domiciled;
- the person beneficially entitled to the estate by the law where the deceased died domiciled;
- in the case of a will in the English or Welsh language, the executor named in the will; or
- in the case of a will in any language, an executor according to the tenor of the will.
If the applicant for a resealed grant does not qualify under any of these criteria, the grant may only be resealed by leave of a District Judge or Probate Registrar.
The Probate Registry is able to reseal one of the following:
- the original foreign grant;
- an official copy of the foreign grant with the seal of the issuing court;
- a copy grant certified as correct under the authority of the issuing court; or
- an exemplification of the original grant.
If there is a will, it should ideally be officially attached to the grant. If it is not, a copy of the will certified or sealed by the court in which it has already been proved must be lodged and it must be sufficiently identified as a copy of the proved will. If the will is not in the English language, a notarial translation or a translation verified by affidavit of the translator should be filed.
It will also be necessary to complete and file an inheritance tax return, even if no UK inheritance tax is payable. This will either be a long-form or short-form inheritance tax return depending on the nature and value of the assets in England and Wales and the deceased’s former links with the UK.
Once the inheritance tax return and papers required by the Probate Registry have been completed, it will take at least one to two months for the resealed grant to be issued by the Probate Registry (possibly longer given the current delays at the Probate Registry). Once the grant has been resealed, the deceased’s personal representatives can then proceed to administer the estate in England and Wales.
It will not always be possible or appropriate to reseal a foreign grant. Grants which have issued in jurisdictions which are not listed on the 1965 Order are not eligible for resealing (for example, grants issued in the Channel Islands cannot be resealed). The Probate Registry will only reseal foreign grants which are in the English language. No limited or temporary grants can be resealed and grants which issued to more than four applicants cannot be resealed.
A Northern Irish or Scottish grant which states that the deceased died domiciled in Northern Ireland or Scotland is recognised in England and Wales without the need for resealing.
Due to the legal and tax implications of an application to reseal a foreign grant, it is always best to seek legal advice about the best way to proceed.
If you have any questions raised in this article, please contact Lisa Schiel from our Trusts, Estates and Tax team.
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.
Talk to us
Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?
Contact: 03301 001 014