Probate when there are assets in the UK and Bermuda
Why Bermuda? Bermuda is a British Overseas territory, located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Known for its beautiful beaches, sunny weather and for being a well-known tax heaven. It’s a popular destination holiday destination for the British. Some, in later life, will even make the move more permanently.
For those who make a life out in the sun it’s easy to forget about the practicalities of owner assets in more than one country. It is important to understand what will happen to your foreign assets upon your death. Knowing the process means you can take actions in advance to help your executor undertake their role.
Bermuda’s inheritance and probate system is similar to the English system, up to a point. As in England and Wales the testator names the executor in their Will. The executor has the responsibility and authority to administer the deceased’s estate.
If there is no Will the law decides who is entitled to administer and inherit the estate. The order of priority in Bermuda is set out in the same manner as the English and Welsh Laws of Intestacy. This entitles spouse, then children, then parents, then brothers and sisters so on and so forth. You can find the 1974 non-contentious probate act detailing the order of priority on the Bermudan government website.
If the deceased held assets in Bermuda, the executor or estate representative must apply to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Probate. When there is no Will, you will need to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is where the processes start to differ from a regular probate application in England and Wales.
If the deceased held assets in both England or Wales and Bermuda the executor will need a valid grant in both countries. This can be achieved in 1 of 2 ways. Firstly, by making 2 independent applications to both courts following each countries individual laws and procedures. Secondly by having either an English and Welsh Grant or Bermudan Grant resealed.
Bermuda is included in The Colonial Probates Act. This means that a Grant obtained under the English court would be eligible to be resealed by the court in Bermuda and vice versa.
In order to do this, you would need to obtain a grant in either England or Bermuda first. Once a grant has been issued it would be provided to the other countries court to be “resealed”. Resealing can be a quicker and less complicated way of obtaining grants in multiple countries. However, in some circumstances you may be required to make a separate application to each court. In some cases, making 2 separate applications may be more efficient.
Unlike some other British territories Bermuda does not have a double taxation treaty with the UK. This means that you may be taxed in both countries.
If you are the executor of an estate with assets in multiple countries, it is highly recommended to engage the services of a professional in each Jurisdiction. Using a professional with the relevant knowledge will reduce the application time and the chances of mistakes.