Dealing with a loved one's estate can be a difficult task at a highly emotional time. However, an executor's role can be further complicated when the estate to be dealt with has international elements to it. Perhaps the deceased passed away while living abroad or held assets in another country. Either way, the process for dealing with an estate across multiple jurisdictions can seem daunting. In this post, we look at some of the matters you need to be aware of when dealing with an estate with international connections.
When someone dies, their assets need to be dealt with - no matter where in the world these assets are held. Foreign assets can include many property types, including everything from bank accounts and investments, to holiday homes. How an estate is administered will depend on the type of foreign assets and the laws of the country where that property is held, which can make dealing with foreign assets challenging.
Confirmation is a process in Scots Law by which the executors of the estate apply to the court for a grant which allows them to distribute the assets of the estate. The process for obtaining Confirmation in cases with foreign connections will depend on whether the deceased was “domiciled” abroad but held assets in Scotland, or if the deceased was domiciled in Scotland but held assets abroad and whether the deceased left a Will. When applying for Confirmation, any foreign language documents must be accompanied by an official translation.
A grant of Confirmation gives the executors 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.
If the deceased left a Will, the Will might make provision for dealing with foreign assets. In many cases, Wills where the deceased held foreign assets will make specific reference to the property belonging to the estate held in another country. The deceased may even have been domiciled in another country, for example, if the person moved to Spain or another EU country in retirement. You may then need to check if the deceased left another Will either in the UK or in the country where the assets are held.
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.
If you are dealing with an estate with foreign assets, you should seek advice from an experienced team of executry lawyers. We can help.
At Murray Beith Murray, we're more than just lawyers - we're trusted advisors. We clearly outline the executry process, providing straightforward, practical advice and assistance. Our approach to client service is friendly and responsive, and we operate with the highest standards of integrity and professional expertise. For more information, please contact us today, call us on 0131 225 1200 or complete our online enquiry form.