International Probate

Expert International Probate Solicitors

Increasingly individuals have assets in more than one country which can create complex cross border succession and taxation issues on death. Osbornes Law are specialist international probate lawyers and along with our network of international lawyers can help executors handle international assets.

Contact us


  • “The ‘approachable, friendly and motivated’  team receives a steady flow of instructions from high-net-worth individuals and families on an array of tax planning, wealth preservation, estate and succession planning issues.”

  • “Jan is excellent with clients. She approaches complex cases with confidence and skill”

Specialist advice in dealing with International Assets

Our team of specialist international probate solicitors have significant experience in dealing with cross-border probate in countries including the UK and Australia, Europe (Germany, Spain, France and Italy), India, Hong Kong, Singapore, The United States and Brazil.

Where a person dies owning assets in two or more countries, it is frequently necessary for probate or the equivalent to be obtained in both or all countries where the assets are situated. For example, if a person dies domiciled in Germany holding assets in England and Germany, it will be necessary to go through two separate procedures to release the assets. In Germany, the beneficiaries of the German estate will need to obtain a Certificate of Inheritance known as an Erbschein to enable the German estate to be released. A separate Grant of Probate, or Letters of Administration if there is no Will, will need to be obtained in England to secure the release or transfer of the English assets.

Resealing a grant of probate

A slightly different process should be followed when a person dies with assets, say, in Australia and England. If a Grant of Representation has been obtained in the relevant Australian state, the Colonial Probate Acts permit the resealing of that Grant in England and Wales. Countries and territories covered by these Acts include New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, St, Lucia, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Find out more about resealing a grant of probate here.

EU Succession Regulation

Conflicting national laws often apply when a person dies leaving assets in more than one country. Different countries recognise different concepts which influence succession to the deceased’s assets. For example, England recognises the concept of domicile, France, Belgium and Denmark apply the concept of habitual residence and other countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy, apply the concept of nationality. The interconnection between these concepts and their application to succession is complex and clients need to ensure that the advisor they appoint has specialist knowledge of the succession rules of each country and how they interact with each other.

Once the client’s domicile, habitual residence or nationality have been ascertained and the situs, i.e. location of their assets is known, then further investigations are necessary to determine whether the relevant countries have one law governing succession to moveable assets and another governing succession to immovables, i.e. a house or flat.

Some countries, such as Spain and Germany, do not recognise the concept of personal representatives or estate administration. When someone dies the heirs usually appear before a Notary to accept their inheritance direct, rather than it being dealt with by Executors or the administrators of an estate, which is what happens in England and Wales.

The concept of forced heirship applies in some countries, in particular France and Germany, where, irrespective of the terms of any Will, certain specified parts of an estate pass to particular beneficiaries, usually the surviving spouse and children.

All of these concepts need to be considered and appropriately applied in relation to international estates, insofar as appropriate. All this is complicated and matters of private international law and conflicts of law may be relevant in such international situations and need to be clarified and fully understood.

According to the European Commission, 450,000 cross-border successions occur in the EU every year, representing an estimated value in excess of €120 billion.

Brussels IV

In an attempt to simplify cross-border successions, new European Union Rules adopted on 4 July 2012 intended to make it easier for European citizens to deal with the legalities of an international Will or succession matter. There is to be a transitional period and most of the new rules are to be applicable to these successions from 17 August 2015.

These new rules of Regulation (EU) No. 650/2012 are designed to ensure that:-

  1. A succession is treated coherently under a single law and by one single authority;
  2. Citizens are able to choose whether the law applicable to their own succession should be habitual residence or nationality;
  3. Parallel proceedings and conflicting legal decisions in more than one country are avoided;
  4. There is mutual recognition of decisions relating to EU succession;
  5. A European Certificate of Succession is to be created to enable a person to prove status and rights as a beneficiary or administrator of an estate.

Notwithstanding this, some issues will continue to be governed by national rules and in any event the United Kingdom is not currently intending to subscribe to the European Council’s new rules which are known as Brussels IV. The idea behind them is to make it easier for European citizens to deal with the legal side of an international Will or succession issue, i.e. where the rules of more than one country are relevant. The intention is to provide a single set of rules for determining both jurisdiction issues and the relevant law applicable to cross-border estates, with the deceased’s habitual place of residence at the date of death as the determining factor, thereby making it simpler to settle international succession issues.

More than one will?

Prudent estate planning means that it is often a good idea for there to be one international Will covering the testator’s assets in the country where most of them are situated, with a separate local Will just dealing with the few assets owned in another country. Great care must be taken to ensure that the later Will does not revoke the earlier Will and that there is no conflict between the two. Again, specialist advice should be taken to ensure the appropriate form of Will in each country is drawn up.

How much does international probate cost?

See this page for details of our probate fees.

Speak to a Wills & Probate Solicitor today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    Client StoriesVIEW ALL

    1. money in different currencies

      Making an International Will: Case Study

      Making an International Will If you own assets in more than one country, it’s important to make a robust...

      Read more
    2. houses in ireland

      Worldwide Probate Dispute

      Considerable wealth and assets all over the world The deceased died in Ireland leaving very considerable wealth and assets all...

      Read more
    3. new york

      Estate administration with a value of £6million

      International estate valued at £6m In this international probate case, we are acting for the executors in an estate administration...

      Read more
    4. train in india

      International probate involving 17 properties

      International Estate Administration Osbornes Law represented the administrator of this international estate where the deceased was domiciled in India. Ongoing...

      Read more


    • A private client team offering a range of services to assist with private client matters including trust and probate services. A friendly approach with a keen eye for detail.

      Legal 500 2024

    • I have been a client of this firm for a number of years and been impressed by particular individuals, the care and thoughtfulness with which they have worked.

      Legal 500 2024

    • An efficient firm which provides an excellent service at highly competitive charging rates.

      Legal 500 2024

    • The team receives a steady flow of instructions from high-net-worth individuals and families on an array of tax planning, wealth preservation, estate and succession planning issues

      Legal 500 2024

    • I think this firm has excellent strength and depth in this area, for both contentious and non-contentious work, and they can hold their own against any other firm.

      Legal 500 2024

    • I have found them to be incredibly knowledgeable and pragmatic in settling claims for their clients.

      Legal 500 2024

    • The contested estates team is strong with talented young solicitors doing good quality work

      Legal 500 2024

    • The nimble team acts for a broad range of high-net-worth individuals and families on a variety of complex estate and trust litigation.

      Legal 500 2024

    • Osbornes has a ‘strong private client department’ and ‘the firm seems to be going from strength to strength’.

      Legal 500 2024

    • Thank you for managing my case, following a complete fiasco before I contacted Osbornes Law. I know that the work involved was rather complicated, possibly frustrating and often time consuming. I was impressed with your current knowledge of the case when we had the first meeting at your office. I regard a face-to-face meeting as imperative in developing positive relationships. Members of your team, such as Alex and Ella were impressive too, with their efficient, friendly manner of working.
      I am grateful for your patience, advice and excellent support at a difficult time. Hopefully it won't be necessary to contact you again regarding this matter! I will definitely use Osbornes Law in the future.


    • "Commitment to the cause, willingness to go the extra mile and complete command of the area mean they always give the right advice and do the best job possible."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "They are completely committed to doing the absolute best they can for every single client. They are bright, knowledgeable and innovative."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "This team perhaps does not have the reputation in this area it ought to have. It quietly handles some very big, high profile disputes. It has an expert team to do so and provides sensible pragmatic advice to its clients."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "The agile team at Osbornes acts for a wide range of high-net-worth individuals and families in complex estate and trust litigation, advising on a wide array of contentious trust and estate matters."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "I wish to thank you for your advice, efficiency and professionalism throughout which has been greatly appreciated."

      Client review

    • "I am proud to be a private client of Osbornes Solicitors LLP, a client of many years. I appreciate the swift and efficient work of the Private Client Department Team."


    • "Jan Atkinson, with her steely, steady, calming presence, instils confidence in the most highly-strung of us clients. With her masterful knowledge of the law, old and new, and its application, Jan can navigate through the most complex of cases to a successful end."

      Legal 500 2021

    • "I find Osbornes’ client-friendly approach welcoming and refreshing"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "A medium-sized London firm dealing with big litigation and doing it extremely well because of a depth of expertise and experience."

      Legal 500 2021

    • My family had the pleasure of Jan Atkinson working with us on the will and probate issues of [my mother's] estate in Camden and Ireland after she passed on last year. Jan and her assistant(s) offered us a fantastic service at a sad time.

      Client Review

    • "Jan Atkinson stands out for her wide-ranging knowledge and experience of estates; whatever problem you throw at her, she has seen it all before and is able to find a creative and sustainable solution. She has exceptional commitment to her clients and explores every avenue to find the best solution for them"

      Legal 500 2021 - Jan Atkinson

    • The team is very caring, experienced and detailed and was clear about the  next steps and offered very helpful advice and suggestions

      Legal 500

    • Jan Atkinson has extensive experience in private client matters, which underpins her excellent skills in the contentious probate area. Plus she is strong on international matters

      Legal 500 2020 - Jan Atkinson

    • A small but formidable team, punching above its weight. Jan Atkinson is a seasoned pro. Approachable but no push-over

      Legal 500 2020 - Jan Atkinson

    • "They are an outstanding firm to work with. They are consistently impressive in their work."

      Chambers UK

    • "Elspeth Neilson is very reliable and practical."

      The Legal 500

    • "The team frequently deals with cross-border estates for high–net-worth individuals."

      The Legal 500

    • "The team were extremely professional in putting my needs first. There was a joined-up approach to catering for the client, and all lawyers involved were briefed and constructive."

      Chambers UK

    • The situation was handled by your extremely competent, efficient hands - I would not hesitate to recommend Osbornes to others.

      Wills, Probate and Disputed Estate Client

    • "Service prompt and effective. I have absolute confidence in Maggie."

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • I am happy with the service that I got and would recommend you to other potential clients.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • I found Osbornes always very helpful and efficient.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • We are very pleased with the services of Osbornes. Highly professional and through with close attention to detail.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • I would highly recommend Jan Atkinson in any probate matter and Osbornes Solicitors in any other legal matters.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Jan Atkinson is a very proficient lady whom I would highly recommend to anyone involved in probates.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Thanks for all your work and explaining everything so clearly. For any legal matters in the future I would not hesitate in instructing Osbornes.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • We have found your service to date as the most informative we have come across.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Osbornes Solicitors always responded promptly to any request for information I had.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • “Geoffrey’s affairs were dealt with just the right combination of friendliness and professionalism, which really helped.”


      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Jan Atkinson is confident with a straightforward approach. Her practice covers both contentious and non-contentious matters, including wealth planning and estate administration.

      Chambers UK

    • I would like to thank everyone in my case for the excellent job!

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates client


    • Times best law firm 2024
    • Spears 500 logo
    • legal 500 leading firm
    • chambers logo