Dealing with an estate’s foreign assets

Once upon a time the chances of someone having assets abroad were not that high. Along came globalisation and all that changed—from holiday homes to foreign bank accounts, the sale and transfer of foreign listed stocks and shares, there are numerous ways a person’s estates can include foreign assets.

Estates that do contain assets that are listed abroad can make it very complicated to realise the estate’s true worth. After someone dies, an administrator or executor must calculate the value of the estate to work out how much the beneficiaries are entitled to claim, and for tax purposes, as estates that are worth more than the inheritance tax threshold will need to pay what is owed to the HMRC.

But with assets registered elsewhere, this becomes doubly complicated because of the need to work within different jurisdictions. Disposal of the asset in each area will depend on the laws of that country and can make dealing with an estate far more complicated than simple asset disposal when everything is in one country.

Delisted stocks

Take shares, for example. Many estates will contain shares that were once listed on the London Stock Exchange but have since been delisted. Those portfolios may not have been actively managed for many years. Takeovers may change the nature of the stock owned. If foreign share registrars or transfer agents send information to the addresses they have on file, this can result in the necessary documentation being sent to old, out of date addresses.

Dealing with foreign share registrars and transfer agents can be tricky and very time consuming. Often issues such as different terms or procedures and security measures may hinder the administrator or executor, stopping them from getting the information they need in good time.

Finders International has years of experience of dealing with international assets. For example, we can obtain IRS tax clearance for estates where US-held assets are valued at more than $60,000 (the tax exemption threshold). We are also able to dispose of shares in other countries such as Australia and Hong Kong, we can reseal grants in commonwealth countries and obtain grants in offshore jurisdictions like the Isle of Man and Jersey, so that these can be disposed of.

Our services also cover bank accounts, lost share certificates and dormant or unclaimed assets in the US and Canada.

If you would like to find out more about the overseas assets services, please contact Louise Levene in our London office.

This article was submitted to be published by Finders International as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.

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