Can I Apply for Probate in the UK If I Live Overseas?

24 August 2016

It really all depends on whether the Estate you are dealing with is in the UK or overseas, as this will make a difference when applying for Probate and dealing with the Estate Administration process. It doesn’t make much difference where you live but the important question is where are the assets of the Estate located?

You should be aware that the Estate Administration process differs from country to country. This is true even in the countries that make up the UK. England and Wales share the same Estate Administration process, but the processes in Scotland and in Northern Ireland are quite different. If you are dealing with an Estate in Scotland, you’ll hear the word ‘Confirmation’ used instead of Probate because it is their equivalent word.

You’ll need to review the Estate Administration process in the country that has legal jurisdiction over the Estate. This applies to countries in the UK and those outside of the UK as well.

If the Estate that you need to obtain Probate for is within England or Wales and you live outside of the UK, there shouldn’t be too many problems for you when applying for Probate. But depending on the circumstances, it may be worth consulting a tax adviser in the country where you live in case there are tax implications for any money you might inherit.

If you live outside of the UK either temporarily or as an expatriate, you’ll need to factor in the practical barriers you’ll probably face when obtaining Probate in England or Wales. These could include a slow postal service between the UK and wherever you live. Roughly speaking, it takes 3 to 5 days for UK post to reach Europe and 5 to 7 days for the rest of the world.

When you consider the amount of paperwork that you will have to send back and forth, this could well result in an increase in the amount of time it takes to complete the Estate Administration process.

This could also increase the cost of Probate, as you may want to send important documents such as original Wills and house deeds by tracked international post or through a courier service so you can be sure that they arrive safely.

One other big challenge for you will be sorting through the paperwork and making an inventory of the Estate you are dealing with. If you are planning to apply for Probate for an Estate and you live abroad, you’ll realistically have to plan a visit to the UK to get all the necessary paperwork together like the Will, and take an inventory of all of the assets you’ll be dealing with.

So the English and Welsh Estate Administration process remains the same regardless of where you live. You will just need to factor in the extra cost and extra time delay that could happen because you’re dealing with the Estate from a distance.

If you are dealing with an Estate that is not in England or Wales, you’ll need to investigate the process in the country in question and go through that country’s specific requirements.

If there are assets in more than one country, known as a ‘cross-border Estate’, you’ll need to take extra care, as there can be a lot of legal difficulties

You’ll almost certainly need help from experienced Probate Solicitors/Lawyers in each of the countries involved. These Lawyers will usually need to work together in order to make sure that the Estate is dealt with properly and taking into account the law in each country.

So if the Estate is mainly in the UK, but there is a Spanish holiday home as well, you ’ll probably need help from a Solicitor or other Probate professional in the UK and also from a Lawyer or ‘abogado’ as they are called in Spain, to deal with the holiday home.

The good news is that you don’t have to complete the Estate Administration process on your own. You can ask our Probate Solicitors to step in and complete the Probate process for you. This will remove all of the pressure, stress and hassle from the process. You can stay in contact with your dedicated Probate case handler, who will complete the work quickly and efficiently for you.

At Co-op Legal Services, we’re happy to discuss the Estate Administration process with you at a time to suit you, and we can arrange for one of our experienced Probate Consultants to come and visit you when you are in England or Wales.

In order to save some of the extra time and costs mentioned above, you can ask us to deal with the Estate using what is called a ‘Power of Attorney’. This means that you just have to sign one legal document at the start which authorises Co-op Legal Services to do everything for you.

After that, the responsibility for signing and dealing with all of the Estate paperwork stays with us, and you can head home safe in the knowledge you won’t need to keep sending original documents between countries.

Instead, your dedicated Probate case handler can simply keep you informed of what is happening by e-mail.

You won’t need to worry, as there are no upfront fees to pay. Our fixed fee for all the agreed Probate and Estate Administration work will be taken directly from the money in the Estate.

If someone has died and you need help with probate, contact us:

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