Probate for assets from abroad

I have a Client whose sister was resident in the USA. Her American Will left everything to my Client and when the assets were sold the money from these was transferred into the Client’s UK bank account. The bank are now stating that the Client has to obtain probate in the UK to enable them to release the funds. Is this correct and, if so, any assistance on how to deal with this would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance.

If this is the client’s personal account then it sounds crazy.

I would have thought appropriate steps might be:

  • visit bank
  • solicitor’s letter explaining this is nonsensical
  • financial ombudsman
  • letter before action

That’s a bit nonsensical of the bank.

I suggest the client asks the bank to refer the matter to its Legal Department as such a requirement has no standing under English Law. Indeed, if the client sought probate to the US will in England (or anywhere else within the UK), what assets of the deceased would they declare to have been held within the UK at the date of death?

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

PO Box 421, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 0EX

T: 07712 664127


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I suspect the Bank’s requirement may be motivated by money laundering rules to prove source of funds are legitimate. Go straight to complaint letter enclosing copy of the US estate accounts/probate or bank transfer instructions. I wouldn’t waste time with a bank visit / phone call.

I agree with the above. In the number of years of dealing with the transfer of monies or shares from the USA for deceased’s estates, we have never seen such a ridiculous request. As mentioned it is probably the bank being cautious as to money laundering. A copy of the USA Grant and Will duly certified by the appropriate State or County Probate Court should be sufficient to satisfy the bank, especially as the Will names your client as the beneficiary of the estate. In many States / Counties the Executors have to file accounts with the local probate court and have those accounts approved by the Probate Court so a copy of such accounts should also be sent to the bank. As suggested, you need to go higher up the tree to the legal department at least and not reply to the local bank manager who may well be just following orders without a thought as to the consequences and the true position.
If you are dealing with an on-line bank, I would threaten to report the bank to the regulator. This sort of nonsense has to stop. Peter Double, Probate Resealing Services.

Thank you all so much for your replies - complaint letter duly sent with the threat of the Ombudsman and a claim for costs if not promptly resolved.