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International Probate: Where to Begin

Posted by M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola | Sep 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

The prospect of disposing of a relative or friend's estate when he or she has property and heirs in multiple countries may seem daunting at first. You may be wondering how to start the process, which types of professionals you need to consult, and more. Below, you will learn where to begin.

What Is International Probate?

International probate refers to the process of assessing and distributing assets of deceased people who owned property in multiple countries or who planned to leave their assets to heirs in multiple countries.

Does Our Relative's Estate Require an International Probate?

Often, the deceased has multiple single-jurisdiction wills or a multi-jurisdiction will. Sometimes, the deceased does not have a will but has close relatives living around the world or property in multiple countries. In the case of multiple wills, each will probably should be submitted to a probate court in the corresponding jurisdiction for administration. Where to submit a multi-jurisdiction will for probate depends on the jurisdictions and the terms of the will. Some countries permit “international wills” to ease this process. (See Wills Act, Sect. 6.)

What Are Some of the Common Problems that Arise with International Probate?

International probate involves a host of practical problems, tax issues, and probate laws that should be considered. One example is the case of multiple conflicting wills governed by the laws of different jurisdictions. If one of the wills revokes the other, a dispute may arise over distribution of property. Another example is taxation of assets distributed in multiple countries. How to tax the assets, who pays the taxes, and other questions should be decided. Practically speaking, a relative may find himself the executor or heir to an estate in a different country halfway across the world, making administration of the estate difficult.

Will We Need Professional Help to Probate the Wills?

Almost certainly, yes. As mentioned above, international probate is very complicated and involves laws of several different jurisdictions. There may be special probate procedures to follow in the country or countries where you file for probate or there may be particular international tax issues to consider. An attorney, an accountant, and perhaps other professionals will greatly assist you.

If you need Bahamian probate or estate planning help, seek local counsel.. To find out more, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.

About the Author

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola is a civil and commercial litigation attorney and an accredited civil and commercial mediator. Margaret has over 21 years' experience in legal practice in the United Kingdom, Jamaica and The Bahamas.


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