International Estates: what you need to tell your Estate lawyer

The international nature of society today means an increasing number of deceased estates have an international element.  Families are frequently spread across different countries; the deceased’s assets are sometimes located in another jurisdiction; or the deceased themselves lived in another country.   This means estate trustees and executor clients require specialist cross-border legal advice from lawyers who are highly experienced in cross border estates.

The cross border lawyers at Rogerson Law Group have many years of experience successfully advising clients who are dealing with the administration or probate of international estates.   When clients first come to us for legal advice when acting in the administration of a loved one’s estate with cross border issues, they are rightly concerned about how complex the matter will be.  However, with the right information for specialist lawyers, we can make it as stress free and efficient as possible.

What do we need to know?

  • Where did the deceased live at the time of death? This may have tax implications depending on the deceased’s ‘domicile’
  • Did the deceased leave a Will, and was another Will made in any other country?
  • Where are the beneficiaries located? The succession rules of other countries may be relevant. There may also be mental capacity issues that need to be considered
  • Where are the deceased’s assets located? This may be land and property, bank accounts, trusts and investments, and so on

What happens next?

When we have the full picture with all the information we require, we can advise you on the likely costs involved – particularly any fees and taxes that may be levied in another jurisdiction. Once the estate administration is under way, a number of particular challenges can arise in an international estate:

Communication issues: there could be language challenges where dealing with professionals in another country. In addition, there could be issues where there are major time zone differences and means and timing of communications could become tricky.

Choice of foreign advisor: in other jurisdictions, you may not have much of a choice of professional advisor.  For instance, you may have to deal with an offshore company, or a particularly legal adviser that would not be your preferred choice.

Property challenges: where the deceased owned property in another country, there may be practical issues relating to, for instance, insurance and property management, and arranging any sale of the property (with potential language issues).

Documentation: where there are assets in other jurisdictions, the institution concerned could impose administrative requirements that could be difficult or impossible for an estate trustee resident in Canada to comply with.

Additional costs: institutions and advisers in other countries in connection with overseas assets could, quite properly, impose fees for their services in relation to the estate administration and probate.

How can we help?

If you are an estate trustee/executor and expect the estate administration and probate to involve overseas assets, contact the experienced Cross Border and Estate Administration lawyers at Rogerson Law Group. We can take the hard work out of it and work with you on your behalf in what can be a particularly complex estate administration.

Rogerson Law Group provides cross Border and Asset Protection services in the entire GTA including Toronto, Scarborough, Mississauga, Vaughan, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, and Barrie and surrounding areas with offices located in downtown Toronto, Barrie, and an associated office Ottawa. Contact us now at