Death and Personal Representatives: General introduction and background: Transfer of assets on death
When an individual dies any interest in assets that person held passes to another person. The precise rules that apply will depend on
- where the individual is domiciled
- what country the asset is located in at the date of death
- what type of interest the individual had in the asset.
Certain transfers of interest will happen automatically without the need for further action. For example, if an individual domiciled in the UK owns an interest in an asset in the UK as a joint tenant, his or her interest will automatically pass to the other joint tenant on death. Similarly, for a person domiciled in a country with inheritance laws similar to those of Germany, the deceased’s assets will automatically be transferred to their heirs.
In other cases, although the transfer of assets is deemed to have happened at the date of death, further action is required to establish title. For example, in the case of estates located in the United Kingdom the deceased’s assets other than interests in joint tenancies and certain partnerships are deemed to pass to personal representatives at the date of death. However the personal representatives have to obtain a grant of probate or of letters of administration (in Scotland a confirmation) in order to establish title. Normally the personal representatives will have to pay any Inheritance Tax that is due on a provisional calculation before they can receive the necessary grant.