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Inheritance of assets kept abroad: what you need to know

Many wealthy people like to diversify their assets geographically these days and they open foreign bank accounts and purchase foreign securities. How can you leave you assets that are kept abroad to your heirs? What aspects of the procedure do you have to know about? Please read on to find it out.

Assets abroad

How can you determine what assets are inheritable?

If the person who had some assets abroad dies, the first thing to do is find out what assets are inheritable. You will have to apply for the services of a notary public for this purpose. In other cases, the deceased person’s will can contain the name of the authorized individual in charge of handling the inheritance matters.  

It is important to claim the right of inheritance within the timeframe defined in the country’s legislation. The timeframes differ from one country to another: in some national states, you have two months to do so while in others you have up to six months.

If the deceased has left a notarized will, the inheritance process should not involve too many difficulties. If he or she has not, certain problems may well arise.

How can you inherit money in a foreign bank account?

Legislations of different national states regulating the succession issues can differ greatly. The most serious possible threat is that you may be unaware of the foreign country’s laws governing the property succession process.

For instance, you have to know that in most cases, the bank must block the diseased person accounts at the moment of receiving a notification of his/ her death. Besides, is underage children are listed among the heirs, each country will have its own regulations related to this matter.

How can you inherit securities kept abroad?

Broker’s or investment accounts in foreign banks are another popular instrument of asset diversification. Foreign securities can also be inherited similarly to the money kept in foreign bank accounts.

In order to gain possession of the securities left to you by your deceased relative you have to submit a certificate confirming your right of inheritance. The certificate of inheritance can be obtained from the notary and it has to be submitted to the broker, the bank administration or the trustee depending on where the securities are kept. To reregister the securities in a new name you have to pay a visit to the registrar. 

Please mind that the procedures of securities inheritance will differ from one country to another. But if you know where exactly the securities are kept and what instrument is used for their trade and maintenance, no serious problems should arise in the inheritance process.   

Difficulties associated with inheriting foreign assets

Difficulties may arise in case the inheritable assets are located in several countries at a time. Inheritance-related legislations will be different in each country and that is in addition to the need to follow the laws of your home country. Thus, you will have to know the procedures and the requirements that are applicable in each jurisdiction.

For instance, inherited assets are not taxed if they are located in Cyprus but in some other countries they are taxed. In Switzerland, the heir inherits both the assets and the debts that the diseased person may have. In Great Britain, the liabilities will be deducted from the cost of the inherited assets and thus the heir will get what is left after the deduction. So, there is a lot to know about when inherited foreign assets.

What is the procedure of inheriting foreign assets?

If the inheritable assets are located abroad, you will have to visit the foreign country (or countries) in any case. Generally, you will have to do the following to come into possession of what has been left to you:


Acquire the inheritance certificate or another document that certifies your inheritance right.


Have the inheritance certificate translated and apostilled.


Apply for the services of a notary public in the foreign country where the assets are located.

The continuation of the process will depend on what country the bank account, the securities, the real property or the business company are located. You must use some legal advice when planning to inherit any foreign property. Otherwise, you stand a good chance to incur heavy losses. Please be prepared to wait until the inherited property becomes available to you. The process can take from a few months to a few years.

For the reasons stated above, it is important to think about your successors in advance. You have to structure your assets in a way that will make them easily transferable to future generations. Actually, there are many different methods that you can use to leave your property to your descendants. Making a will is certainly a very good idea.   

Offshore Pro Group experts will be happy to help you clarify the following issues:

  • Specifics of inheriting property located in a certain country;
  • Types of inheritable assets;
  • Categories of heirs;
  • Tax aspects associated with inheriting foreign property;
  • Structuring inheritable assets in an efficient way;
  • Lowering the risks of financial losses.

Coming into possession of inheritable assets located abroad is not an easy task. If you apply for our consultations on financial and tax aspects associated with the process, however, you will be able to keep as much as possible of what has been left in a will to you. Please contact us by email, telephone, or our online chat and ask us any questions related to inheriting foreign assets. We will get back to you shortly.

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