Confirmation or Probate from Abroad
If you have been named as the person in charge of a deceased friend or relative’s estate, but you live outside of Scotland (or the United Kingdom), you may be wondering if it is possible for you to obtain Confirmation or Probate from abroad.
On this page, we have set-out the things you ought to consider before instructing a Scottish solicitor to obtain Confirmation or Probate from Abroad, or dealing with the estate yourself.
From our experience working with clients based all over the World, Confirmation or Probate from abroad can seem like a daunting task – especially if you do not have immediate access to the deceased person’s home and/or paperwork. The time difference between your location and the UK may also be a source of concern to you.
With more people holidaying, working or retiring abroad, we are seeing a marked increase in the number of estates with international aspects to them. With foreign assets comes a host of considerations when attempting to untangle and deal with the deceased person’s worldly belongings. Often, the type of foreign assets and the laws of the country where that asset is held can make dealing with the deceased’s estate less than straightforward.
When someone dies, all of their assets across the globe need to be dealt with. Foreign assets can include bank accounts and investments, holiday homes and timeshares, cars and business interests. How the deceased person’s estate is dealt with will depend on a number of factors, but perhaps the main consideration at the outset is to determine two facts:
- Did the deceased person make a Will (in Scotland or another country)?
- What was the “domicile” of the deceased at the time they died?
If there is a Will – and depending on whether it was home-made or not – the country whose laws are to apply in administering the deceased person’s estate may be expressly stated within the Will itself. This is important because each country has its own particular set of laws that deal with succession, and most legal systems will give certain relatives legal rights to make a claim on the deceased’s estate even if there’s no Will or if the potential claimant is excluded from the Will.
If the deceased did not leave a Will, any property held overseas must be distributed in line with that country’s intestacy rules. Typically, we would work with a solicitor based in that country who would advise the specific rules applying to the distribution of an estate in that country.
What if there are multiple Wills in difference countries?
If there are multiple Wills made in different countries, the issue of “Domicile” will need to be investigated. “Domicile” is distinct from the concept of “residence” (that is, the country in which you live) and “tax residence” (that is, the country in which you are subject to Income Tax). Essentially, the domicile of a deceased person will confirm which country’s legal system will govern how their estate is dealt with.
There are many ways to determine a deceased person’s domicile, so if you are worried about this, contact us today on 0141 628 5544 or email@example.com or send us an online enquiry and we can help you through the minefield of domicile determination.
Do I need Confirmation in Scotland or Probate from Abroad?
In Scotland, you’ll need to obtain “Confirmation” to the estate before the assets can be released or transferred. In England and Wales (and other countries) this document is called “probate”. A grant of Confirmation gives the Executor(s) legal, court-backed authority to deal with the deceased’s assets held in Scotland, but in order to deal with assets held overseas, you will need to meet the requirements in the law of the country where the assets are held. This may require additional court processes in those countries.
Banks, property registers, pension companies and other asset-holders will be quite particular about the type of document they require before releasing or transferring the deceased’s assets, so you’ll need in-depth legal advice from the start. Often, these asset-holders will demand to see not only the Confirmation document but also the foreign probate document. So obtaining Confirmation in Scotland may not be the final step in the legal process to deal with the deceased person’s estate.
Can a person act as Executor if they live outside the UK?
If you are named as the Executor of someone’s Will and you’re not a UK resident, you can still deal with their estate anywhere in the World.
To make things a little easier in terms of signing and sending documents internationally, it is sometimes advisable to formally appoint someone in the UK (i.e. a solicitor or a family member or friend) to be able to act on your behalf. The document that you’ll need to authorise someone in this regard is a “power of attorney” – and we can prepare this for you immediately.
Once you have a power of attorney in place, you would remain as the legal authority to deal with the estate, but you’d have the benefit of a UK-resident person or persons to attend to signing the necessary legal documents on your behalf. All of the work can be completed on your behalf without you having to travel to the UK. Everything can be completed via telephone, email, letter or video call.
Weir Law Solicitors focus on Confirmation and Probate and in Scotland. With office locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and throughout the country, we cover all locations throughout Scotland. We also act for individuals living abroad who have been tasked with dealing with a Scottish deceased’s estate. Whatever your query, contact us today on 0141 628 5544 or firstname.lastname@example.org