When do I need to reseal a foreign grant?
When a non-domiciled person dies with assets located in England and Wales, the deceased’s personal representatives will need to reseal the grant issued by another jurisdiction (foreign grant) or obtain an English grant, in order to access the assets.
In deciding which option applies, the following needs to be considered:
- Did the deceased leave a Will?
- If so, in which jurisdiction was it made?
- Is it written in the English language?
- Was a foreign grant issued, if so where?
If a foreign grant has been issued, it may be possible to have it resealed by the Probate Registry in England and Wales.
What is a reseal?
A reseal is where a foreign grant has been obtained in relation to someone’s estate who died abroad. Since a foreign grant cannot automatically be used in England and Wales, to deal with the deceased’s UK assets it must be resealed by the Probate Registry.
Following this process, it can be used to deal with the UK assets in the usual way.
When can a foreign grant be resealed?
The Colonial Probates Act 1892 and 1927 lists the applicable jurisdictions where a foreign grant can be resealed in England and Wales. As the name suggests, these are countries with a commonwealth link including Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore (to name a few).
Point to note – Channel Islands
A grant issued by any of the Channels Islands is not recognised in England and Wales. Similarly, English grants are not recognised in the Channel Islands, a separate grant needs to be applied for in the relevant jurisdiction.
Type of assets
Often people have kept bank accounts, investments and/or land which cannot be accessed without an English grant or a resealed foreign grant. This will depend on the individual asset holder (eg bank, investment house) so it is worth contacting them in the first instance to ask what their requirements are. For land, the ownership arrangements should be checked, particularly where the deceased co-owned property with someone else.
What happens if a foreign grant cannot be resealed?
If a foreign grant cannot be resealed because it is issued by a country that is not listed in the Colonial Probates Act 1892 and 1927 (eg USA, France, China) an English grant must be applied for. This procedure depends on whether the deceased left a Will or died intestate. In broad terms, the deceased’s personal representatives will need to provide information relating to the deceased’s domicile and value of their estate. An affidavit of foreign law and an inheritance tax account will also be required.