[Flag of Australia]We can arrange for the English Grant of Probate to be resealed in Australia or the Monies in the Australian bank account paid direct to you or to your firm’s client account as we do not handle client monies as a matter of policy. We can also arrange for the Australian shares to be either transferred into the name of the Executors (or to the beneficiaries entitled to receive the same) or have the same sold and accounted to you or to your professional advisers such as your lawyers, accountants or other adviser registered or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

We need details as to the shares, and so without having an idea as to the value of the same, it is difficult to advise with more certainty as to the next step; because if the shares have a value of less than A$15,000 (this sum varies from share registrar to share registrar and also from company to company) it might be possible to use the Australian Small Estate procedure which will save some costs.

If the Small Estate procedure can be used, then the fees quoted below will change as the procedures are different.

For your ease of reference, we have divided this article into (4) sections – section (A) The Resealing Process of the Grant; and (B) The Sale of the Shares; (C) Unclaimed Monies and (D) Currency Exchange Rates.

If resealing is required (in other words we cannot use the Small Estate Procedure), then in order to start the process the following information will be required:

 

THE RESEALING PROCESS OF THE GRANT

1) A sealed and Probate Court certified copy of the English Grant of Probate and of the Will.
(1)        A sealed and Probate Court certified copy of the English Grant of Probate and of the Will. We will organise the sealed and certified copy of the Grant, and we will need a cheque in favour of HMCTS for £10 to cover the Probate Court fee.

 

 

If the deceased died intestate, can you please provide a list of the persons entitled to inherit the estate in view of the fact that the deceased died intestate?

We imagine the details as to the persons entitled to inherit the estate are contained in the usual clearing off form leading to the Grant of Probate, and if you can let us have a copy of that form as submitted to the Probate Registry it should be sufficient for our purposes.

 

2) An inventory of the worldwide assets and liabilities of the deceased as at his or her date of death

(2)        An inventory of the worldwide assets and liabilities of the deceased as at his or her date of death (a certified copy of the Form IHT400 / IHT 205 and related schedules is usually sufficient). The inventory should also indicate where the assets are situated. We will also need a break down of the “Foreign Assets”, and also of other assets, such as bank accounts, if they are just listed on either Form as a bulk number. We will tell you if we need a break down once we have seen the Form. Usually IHT Forms 406; 411; 416 and 417 cover most issues.

3) The shareholder / security reference number (SRN)

(3)        The shareholder / security reference number (SRN) for the deceased’s shareholding in the Australian companies. This will probably be found on a dividend statement from the various companies or other information received from them from time to time; the Deceased will have a different SRN number for each company in which the deceased has shares;

4) The deceased’s place and date of birth;
5) The deceased’s place and date of death;
6) The deceased’s occupation, other than “retired” or “Gentleman”;
7) An original Death Certificate (the green coloured version);
8) Each executor’s occupation and address;
9) A copy of each of the Executor’s passport duly certified as being a true copy of the original;

…certified by a solicitor, accountant or someone registered or regulated by the FCA, or by the Post Office (they make a charge for certifying documents)

10) A copy of a Utility Bill of each Executor dated within the last three (3) months

(10)        A copy of a Utility Bill of each Executor dated within the last three (3) months, also certified by a solicitor, accountant or someone registered or regulated by the FCA, or by the Post Office (they make a charge for certifying documents) as being a true copy of the original;

11) If possible, a certified copy of the passport of the deceased.

(11)        If possible, a certified copy of the passport of the deceased. The certification should be by a solicitor, accountant or someone registered or regulated by the FCA,< or by the Post Office (they make a charge for certifying documents). If the passport is not available then a copy of the Birth Certificate of the Deceased will be needed as we have to show that the Deceased is a British Citizen either by birth (Domicile of Birth) or by adoption (Domicile of Choice) or if the Deceased is not a British Citizen, then we have to show the place of his Domicile being other than Australia;

If neither the Passport nor the Birth Certificate are available, we will write to the Passport Office and obtain from them the passport details of the deceased (assuming that the deceased did in fact have a British Passport). In order to do this we will prepare and send to you a Letter of Authority, and we will need a sealed copy of the Grant of Probate; an original Death Certificate (the green coloured version); and copies of the passports or driving licence (with photo) of each Executor. The Passport Office will return the sealed copy of the Grant of Probate and the Death Certificate; and

12) If the shares are to be sold and the monies are to be paid into an account, then the bank account details

(12)       If the shares are to be sold and the monies are to be paid into your account (or to the account of your professional advisers such as your lawyers, accountants or other adviser registered or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority), then the bank account details (including the IBAN; sort code; and account number and SWIFT details) of the account into which payment is to be made. We will not require this information until the shares are sold; and

13) A copy of the original share certificate, if any – which is unlikely for Australian shares

(13)       A copy of the original share certificate, if any – which is unlikely for Australian shares, or if the shares are held in electronic form, then a copy of the evidence of title or of the most recent dividend statement that you can find.

14) We are required to list all Beneficiaries and their entitlements under the Will of the Deceased...

(14)       We are required to list all Beneficiaries and their entitlements under the Will of the Deceased, in the Affidavit which has to be filed with the Australian State Probate Court. We therefore need to know if any of the Beneficiaries have died before the Deceased, as the Affidavit has to list any deceased Beneficiaries. If there is no indication that any of the Beneficiaries have died before the Deceased, the lawyers will assume that all Beneficiaries are alive and entitled to inherit their entitlement as per the Will of the Deceased.

NEW SOUTH WALES REGISTRATION

15a) Affidavit of Applicant for Resealing

(15a)       If the shares have been issued by a Company which has its registered office in New South Wales, then the Executors will in due time be asked to swear an Affidavit of Applicant for Resealing, which will state (amongst others) the names, ages and relationship to the deceased to the Beneficiaries entitled to receive monies or other assets under the Will (or by the laws of Inheritance if the deceased died intestate).

The Affidavit will also set out the assets and liabilities of the Deceased; and also when the Executors swear the Affidavit before a Commissioner for Oaths, the Executors  will have to produce evidence of their identity such as a passport, as this identity document is referred to in the Affidavit.

We will also need to know if there are any outstanding dividends or uncashed dividend cheques, although usually this will be picked up during the course of the administration.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

15b) Affidavit of Applicant for Resealing

(15b)       Can you please note that if the shares are in respect of a Company that is registered in Western Australia, then the above procedures are slightly different, but we will let you know this once we have the requested information. You should note that Western Australia can be very difficult, and therefore we recommend that the Grant be Resealed in Western Australia first, and then once that has been completed the resealed Grant can usually be used to transfer the shares in the companies which are registered in Victoria and in New South Wales.

Can you also please note that in due time at least one Affidavit will have to be signed by the Executors, and the Western Australian Courts are very particular as how this Affidavit (which will be prepared for the Executors to sign) is to be signed (at least signed before a Notary Public); and there will also be a Verification of Identity which has to be signed by the Executors in the presence of a Notary Public who in turn has to verify that the Notary has seen the passports of the Executors.

We will also need to know if there are any outstanding dividends or uncashed dividend cheques, although usually this will be picked up during the course of the administration.

Some of the above information will be obtainable from the Death Certificate of the Deceased.

 

THE SALE OF THE SHARES

If in due time shares (or some of them) are to be sold, an authority will have to be prepared and signed by the Executors/Administrators so that same can be sold. We will send you this Authority in due time.

If the shares (or some of them) are to be sold, you will have to complete an Australian brokers authorisation form (again, which we will prepare in due time), and in due time you will be requested to sign the Section 1071B Statement which the share registrars will issue to us to obtain the signature of the Executors. These documents will be needed so that the brokers in Australia can sell the shares. None of the above documents for the sale of the shares will be required if you are going to pay the fees separately from the transfer of the shares.

We have recently found that the exchange rates from Australian banks are not very good, and our usual brokers provide a much better exchange rate (see below); and we therefore suggest that you might like to consider using them to sell the shares (or some of them). If you decide to take this course of action (and the choice is entirely yours), we will in due time need you to sign an irrevocable instruction to the brokers to pay both ourselves and the Australia lawyers from the net proceeds of sale.

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As mentioned, if you wish to reduce the risk of loss on exchange rates instead of selling the shares through Australian stock brokers and having to deal with potential exchange rate mark-ups, we suggest that in order for the shares (or some of them) to be sold, and if you need help in this area we can help you. If you already have a firm of stockbrokers that you use, and who can sell foreign shares, then we suggest that you use that firm, but if you do not have such a firm of stockbrokers, then there is a two stage process:

(i)        The Executors / the instructing law firm / accountants / regulated financial adviser (“the Instructing Firm”) – will open an account with our brokers; and

(ii)         We will then open a sub-account to the Executor’s account in the name of the deceased.

When the sale of the shares has been completed, our brokers will account directly to the Executors or to the Instructing Firm for the net proceeds of sale (we are not authorised to hold client’s monies).

The brokers will charge on a sliding scale, but it is roughly 1.75% for the first £10,000 and thereafter at 0.5%, with a minimum charge of £25. When the sale of the shares has been accomplished the brokers will issue you with a Contract Note which will tell you the net proceeds of sale and the net amount due to be paid to the Executors / the Instructing Firm, and it will also state the day on which payment will be made into the Executor’s / the Instructing Firm’s nominated bank account. We have been finding that it takes the banking system about 3 – 5 days to actually complete the transfer of the monies into the Executor’s / the Instructing Firm’s nominated bank account from the day that payment is made as set out in the Contract Note, so do not worry if there is a slight delay.

If you wish to use our brokers, please let us know, and we will send you the two page Nominee Account Form for signature by the Executor(s) / the Instructing Firm.

We know that Computershare can be asked to sell the shares, but we find that by so doing bank and other charges, exchange rates and time of sale may not produce a net result which is as good as the result that can be provided by our brokers, as they give to the market exchange rate as at the time of sale, and there are no extra hidden charges, and they will issue any cheque in your favour in pounds sterling (GBP) so that you can easily bank the same.

If you decide to retain ownership of the shares, we suggest that in order to avoid these problems in the future, that you consider having the shares in the brokers Nominee System which has considerable long term benefits. We will give you more details of this system if you wish to know about the same. It does not cost you anything to have the shares in the Nominee System apart from a nominal charge (about £50 every 3 years).

We will give you details of the Nominee System if you are interested in the same, as the Nominee System also has considerable long term cost saving, safety factors  and administration of estates cost savings, particularly if someone dies owning shares in foreign companies, such as is the case with which we are now dealing.

 

UNCLAIMED MONIES

Can you please note that there may be some earlier dividends that were not cashed by the deceased for many years, with the result that the dividend monies may have been transferred by the company paying the dividends to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”) to which a claim must be submitted.

If there is a chance that the deceased failed to cash any dividends prior to 1991, then such monies will have been dealt with at the State level, in which case a separate search has to be made in each State to see if it is holding any unclaimed monies.

We usually ask for a search to be made of ASIC, but do not make such enquiries of the different States.

 

CURRENCY EXCHANGE RATES

We have been finding that the Australian banks are very greedy over exchange rates, and will not give you anything like the market exchange rate at the time of conversion.

At least the local British Banks seem to give a better exchange rate which is why before having any monies remitted from Australia we suggest that you obtain from your local bank an indication of the likely current exchange rate, and of the costs and charges for converting Australian Dollars in Pounds Sterling (GBP) before having the monies remitted from Australia.

If the Australian Banks give a better exchange rate, then we suggest the Executors  have the monies converted in pounds sterling (GBP) before remitting the same; but if the British Banks give a better exchange rate, then have them convert the monies here, once the monies have arrived.

Please do not forget, as mentioned above, that you might prefer to use our brokers for the sale of the shares since they give you the market rate as at the time of sale without any additional mark-up or other hidden charges.

 

The Stockbroker’s Nominee System

As also mentioned above, if the Executors wish to transfer the shares to assorted Beneficiaries (or perhaps do some longer term planning such as transferring the shares to children) and wish to avoid the transfer problems that will arise upon the Executor’s own deaths; then what the Executors might like to consider is the use of the Nominee Account System at our brokers. They can hold the Executor’s Australian and other overseas shares in their Nominee System, and the Executors can then easily buy and sell shares in the Australian and other world markets.

The advantage of using such a system is that the Executors or Beneficiaries can buy and sell shares more easily than if the Executors  or Beneficiaries have the shares in their own name(s), as otherwise each time the Executors or Beneficiaries sell any shares, the share registrars will have to issue the Executors or Beneficiaries with a new Holding Statement showing the Executors or Beneficiaries current balance before the Executors can sell some more shares; and if this Holding Statement is misplaced it can create a problem. Therefore if the Executors wish to avoid these sorts of risks and problems, you can ask our brokers to move your client’s shares into their Nominee System. There is no charge for this service, apart from a charge of around £50 every three years if the account is inactive during that time.

Another advantage of having the shares in the Nominee System is that when the Executor(s) die, then on such death our brokers will require little more than a copy of the Grant of Probate and Death Certificate, and they can then transfer the shares to the new owner/beneficiary of the shares without the hassles of additional documentation such as is now being required, or its related costs.

There is nothing to prevent a live shareholder of Australian shares from moving his or her shares into the Nominee Systems NOW before it is too late, and we will be pleased to guide you through the process.

We hope this is helpful to you, and if you have any questions please contact us.

We await hearing from you when you have had a chance to consider the above.