My mother-in-law was Italian citizen and lived in Italy (with Italian husband), she died last week.

The problem is she also had a UK bank account (which was opened years ago and registered to our UK address). The bank is now asking for a Probate application (I believe this PA1 Form) but this is being handled in Italy. They where both retired and I assume this money should simply go to the husband.

She kept it due to lack of trust in Italian banks, euro doing badly, etc. My wife is a signatory on the account.

I am a bit stuck as to what to say to the bank! I think if I can get the Italian equivalent probate forms and letters translated (and certified) then the bank should except those but I am not sure - it is a real mess.

Any advice appreciated.

  • You might need some legal advice here. If your wife was a signatory on the account then (as I understand it, which might be wrong) the money in that account would automatically pass to her - see eg gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/property-and-bank-accounts . – Vicky Aug 4 '15 at 11:44
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    Does a signatory imply ownership, or just authorization to transact in the account? Unless there is joint ownership on the account title, the account will be wholly part of her estate, which likely does need to be probated. You need an attorney. – Kent A. Aug 4 '15 at 12:28
  • If your wife is a signatory can she not just withdraw the money and send it to the husband? – Moogle Aug 4 '15 at 12:55
  • @Moogle Not if one of the owners is deceased. Once any of the owners is deceased, the account can have no activity until the ownership is changed. In joint ownership, that is usually a quick process. In single ownership, probate is likely required. – Kent A. Aug 4 '15 at 14:20
  • Thanks for advice. We did think about removing the money before telling anyone but if we did that 24 hours after time of death then it would probably generate I nightmare to say the least if bank noticed (last thing we need is her being exhumed ;-) will upset grandkids). Bank has confirmed they will only release funeral costs. "You need an attorney" sounds like next step. – Recycled Steel Aug 6 '15 at 9:22

It looks like you do need actually need to apply for probate or letters of administration (depending on whether there was a will or not) if someone domiciled abroad has assets in the UK.

The UK apparently would levy inheritance tax, subject to double-taxation agreements, if the assets in the UK were large enough: https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax/when-someone-living-outside-the-uk-dies

If your permanent home (‘domicile’) is abroad, Inheritance Tax is only paid on your UK assets, for example property or bank accounts you have in the UK.

Since probate is part of the UK inheritance tax process, it's likely you do need it to satisfy the UK authorities there is no tax to pay (or to actually pay the tax, if there was a lot of money involved).

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