When non-UK shareholdings and assets have a value so that an informal procedure such as a ‘Small Estate Procedure’ cannot be used, it is necessary to obtain a probate or equivalent in the jurisdiction in which those shareholdings and assets are situated.
Where those assets are situated in jurisdictions within the Commonwealth, or in certain circumstances formerly so, such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa, it is possible for the probate issued within the United Kingdom to be resealed in those jurisdictions. Resealing can be a less complicated procedure than obtaining a probate or equivalent in the overseas jurisdiction. Where it is not possible to reseal an ancillary probate or equivalent will have to be obtained to administer the assets. We are familiar with the various resealing and ancillary procedures in all of the major jurisdictions of the world.
It is quite often the case that unlike the laws applicable to succession in a deceased estate generally within the United Kingdom, some jurisdictions, and particularly those in most European Countries, have a regime which means that certain heirs are entitled to a portion of an estate regardless of the terms set out in a will; this is known as forced heirship. This aspect of succession can often cause problems and is an area quite often missed by UK practitioners when looking at non-UK assets or where the deceased was not domiciled within the United Kingdom at the time of death.
Should forced heirship be involved it is essential that instructions be taken from the correct and relevant beneficiaries as they may not necessarily be those named in a will and thus whenever non-UK assets are involved or the deceased is non-UK domiciled specialist knowledge is required.
We have in-house expertise in relation to forced heirship rules in offshore jurisdictions and access to a network of affiliates throughout the world and we can advise in most situations.
In addition to resealing and ancillary probates we are also expert in providing medallion guarantee stamps specifically to shares situated in the USA and Canada. Affixing a stamp is usually a straightforward process but the actual sale or transfer can then cause a problem.
Similarly if a shareholding in the USA is in excess of US$60,000 it is usually first necessary to obtain a Federal Transfer Certificate from the USA Internal Revenue Service before any sale or transfer can be made. This is a complex and time consuming matter including the filing of Form 706-NA, a multi-page account required by the Internal Revenue Service.
Our experience over many years in dealing with the complications of the sale and transfer of USA and Canadian shares, including our many dealings with Internal Revenue Service, means that we can provide a seamless service in relation to this complicated area.