Q&A - Dealing with probate when the deceased's assets are in two countries

Q:  My parents moved to South Africa some years ago. They won't talk about what might happen to their estate when they die and I am concerned that I and my siblings might be left with a problem as they have assets both here and abroad. Is there anything we need to know about probate in such circumstances?

A:  With limited exceptions a copy of the Grant of Probate is always required before representatives can access the assets of a deceased person. If the deceased resided or died overseas and the grant of probate was issued there it will not automatically be accepted as a grant to entitle the collection of assets in the UK. Depending on the country, a new grant must be obtained. Alternatively the granted probate can be resealed.

A reseal can only be issued by the UK probate registry if the deceased died or resided in a country recognised by the Colonial Probate Act. Similarly, a UK Grant of Probate can only be resealed in recognised countries. South Africa is a recognised country, whereas Spain for example is not. Obtaining a probate reseal avoids having to reapply for probate in the other country where assets exist. If you are applying for a reseal in the UK you must still complete an inheritance tax return.

If you are applying for a reseal in the UK because probate was issued overseas, you will need three copies of the original grant and a written request for reseal from the persons named in the grant. You must complete either an IHT207 form or an IHT421 form for tax purposes. If the estate value exceeds £5,000 you will need to pay a fee of £40. Due to the complexity of dealing with assets in different countries it would definitely be advisable to seek legal assistance.


Victoria Wilson

Victoria Wilson


A Partner and Head of our Probate, Wills, Trusts and Tax team