Probate for Those Living Abroad
Applying for probate is one of the most pressing tasks that must be completed following a death. If the deceased individual has named an executor in their will then it is this person who will be required to apply for probate; if not a close relative or other relevant person can apply for Letters of Administration which allow them to administer the estate of the deceased individual.
The process of applying for probate can be complicated when the deceased lived in the UK, but there are extra steps that must be completed when the individual in question lived abroad.
Excepted EstatesIn the majority of cases, the estate of an individual who has lived and died will be counted as an ‘excepted estate’. The estates of some British citizens are also deemed to be excepted if they are of a certain value. Essentially, an excepted estate is an estate on which no Inheritance Tax is payable and on which full tax accounts are not required to be delivered to the Inland Revenue.
In order to be considered ‘excepted’, the estate of an individual who lived abroad must meet certain conditions: the individual in question must have died on or after 6th April 2002; any assets attributed to the deceased and held in the UK must consist only of money in a bank or building society, stocks and shares or cash; and these assets must have a total value of no more than £100,000 if the individual died 6th April 2002 and 31st August 2006, or £150,000 if they died on or after 1st September 2006.
In order to obtain probate for individuals whose estates meet these criteria you must fill in the form named IHT207, which you can get from the Inland Revenue website. However, this form only applies to individuals who were not born and have never lived in the UK, who did not make any gifts from the UK-based assets within the seven years before their death, and who were not receiving any benefit from assets held in trust in which the trustees were domiciled in the UK. In these cases, you will require the form IHT200.
ValuationIn filling out IHT207 you will be required to answer a series of yes or no questions regarding the residential and financial status of the deceased individual, along with information about their address and occupation. Furthermore, you will need to fill in a section that values the deceased persons assets in the UK. This will require you to know the value of the cash and stocks and shares owned by the deceased, along with the balance of any bank or building society accounts, and the total value of any debts owed by the deceased to a UK-based creditor.
The information that you will require in order to fill in the form and thus apply for a Grant of Probate can sometimes be acquired by looking through the accounts or bank statements of the deceased individual, but often you will need to get information directly from financial institutions with which the individual had dealings. In these instances you will need to present a death certificate and proof that you are the relevant individual (this could be a copy of the will if you are the named executor). For this reason, it is always worth trying to acquire several copies of the death certificate.