The Colonial Probates Act allows for application for grant of representation in certain countries of the world where someone has died and has UK assets but no will there, e.g. a Singaporean with UK property in London. Application may be made by an individual, through a solicitor or a probate practitioner i.e. notary public or barrister.
Normally an individual must apply to the Registry or sub-Registry and will have to attend at least one appointment for oath before the grant is administered to him or her. In the case of foreign wills in acceptable jurisdictions covered by the Colonial Probates Act such as Singapore, attendance is not required to swear an oath but the following needs to be supplied:
1. The original grant or an official duplicate, or exemplification together with an official copy of the will
2. Two copies of 1. above
3. The form PA1
4. An official copy of the death certificate
5. A written request from each of the grantees for the grant to be re-sealed and confirming that the deceased was domiciled in the country in which the grant was issued. This request can be addressed to the court or it can authorise a named individual/firm of solicitors to apply on their behalf.
6. A form IHT207 should be submitted unless (i) the assets in the UK exceed £150,000 or (ii) the deceased died before 6th April 2002 or (iii) if you have ticked YES to any of the boxes on page one of the form IHT 207, in which case a controlled IHT421 (this is part of form IHT400) should be submitted.
7. Application fee of £155.00 plus £0.50 for each copy of the grant required. Payment by cheque made payable to Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCTS is an acceptable abbreviation). Where the net estate does not exceed £5,000, the application fee is not payable – however copies must be paid for.
The questions that need to be answered may need a substantial amount of research into the deceased's past if this is not immediately known to the Executor(s) or those entitled to a grant.
For instance, in PA1 at question D8 it asks whether the deceased's domicile was England and Wales at the date of death and, if not, where was the domicile? Clearly this should be easily ascertained in the case of Singaporeans.
The importance of this is substantial in calculating the UK inheritance tax liability (IHT) that may arise as a result of completion of another form required at the same time i.e. tax form IHT 400.
A person may also have altered their domicile of origin to a domicile of choice for many reasons including mitigation of tax i.e. by choosing a foreign country or a foreign spouse choosing the UK to benefit from the inter-spousal IHT exemption.
It is sometimes very difficult to ensure that domicile of choice supersedes that of origin. A person may go to extraordinary lengths to alter their domicile of origin and to all intents and purposes have done so to relatives and friends but in the eyes of UK Revenue & Customs is still deemed to be UK-domiciled.
An incorrect assessment of the deceased's Singaporean domicile may have severe consequences at a later date in terms of the tax liability arising by reason of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Jon Golding, ATT (Fellow) TEP, works at Absolute Financial Solutions, Malaysia and provides expatriates in SE Asia with tax mitigation for those on temporary work assignments and retirees to the region. He has had over 40 years working in the tax arena of United Kingdom and his previous work experience has been with HM Revenue & Customs, top international accountants KPMG, PwC, EY.