International Probate – An American Estate
We were instructed by the US executor of the estates of her mother and grandmother in relation to a dormant UK shareholding that formed part of the estate.
- Our client’s grandfather spent much of his working life in the far East and built up a substantial holding of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation shares, later held on the Hong Kong and UK registers of HSBC plc.
- He died resident in the US in the 1970s and his estate passed to his widow (G) and daughter (M). G died in 2002 and M died in 2008.
- G and M had both taken US estate planning advice and entered into Revocable Living Trusts, essentially taking their US estates out of the probate process. Unfortunately, the holdings of HSBC which had been largely dormant since the early 1990s had not been included as an asset of the trusts and therefore fell to be dealt with on their deaths.
- The value of the shares and outstanding dividends was in excess of £500,000.
- After some years of trying to establish title to the shares without success, the executor instructed Carol Cummins to handle the international probate aspects for her
- Before the UK probate court would accept that our client was authorised to deal with the estates, it was necessary to obtain probate in the US in respect of the shareholdings. This required close liaison with the US lawyers regarding the documents that would be acceptable in the UK.
- It was then necessary to obtain probate of both estates in the UK and deal with the UK tax implications.
- Once the grants were obtained, Carol worked closely with the registrars both in Hong Kong and the UK to establish title to the shareholdings, track and receive the missing dividends and liaised with investment managers in the UK to sell the shareholdings and account to the client and the beneficiaries.
- A long standing problem was resolved for our client and the beneficiaries of the estate finally received the sums due to them.
- Carol’s experience of dealing with international probates combined with the practicalities of dealing with registrars both in the UK and overseas was invaluable in this case.