James Foster was a keen amateur investor in stocks and shares and during his forty year career in the City of London had built up quite a large portfolio of UK stocks. During that time some shares went up in value, some went down and others met quite a different end. For instance, one international conglomerate he had invested in had delisted from the London Stock Exchange and was now listed only on the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong.
He had unwittingly become a shareholder in an overseas company. Unaware that this geographical relocation meant that he needed to do anything about these shares, he held onto them and remained blissfully ignorant of the trouble this would cause in the future. When Mr Foster died in 2015, his granddaughter Fiona was appointed his Executor. As principal residuary beneficiary, she was delighted to discover that the shares were worth approximately £14K.
Fiona decided she wanted to sell the shares. Her local stockbroker had not been able to help, so, with no financial expertise but a great deal of common sense, Fiona sourced information online about what she needed to do to begin the process in Hong Kong. She was immediately shocked at the complexity of selling shares there, where the shareholder is both a foreign resident and deceased. She learned that one of the first things she needed to do was to apply for a Hong Kong Reseal.
What is a Hong Kong reseal? In brief, a reseal is a fast-track form of Grant of Probate. It is a statutory requirement to obtain a Hong Kong Grant of Probate when dealing with any estate property in Hong Kong. However, when a Grant of Probate or Scottish Confirmation has already been obtained in the UK, this requirement is downgraded or simplified into a reseal. A lawyer in Hong Kong must act on the Executors’ behalf, and prepare and submit an application comprising various documents to the Probate Registry in Hong Kong, to have the UK Grant or Confirmation resealed (literally, sealed a second time) by the Court as evidence that the Court in Hong Kong recognises its authority.
After spending considerable time approaching Hong Kong law firms and reeling at their disproportionately expensive charge-out rates, a simple phone call to Louise at Finders International for help reassured Fiona that a UK-based solution was at hand. Louise explained that at Finders they had a partner in Hong Kong and would be able to take care of all the paperwork and legalities to complete the resealing. Finders’ experience in dealing with these matters meant that Fiona could pay an all-in price, get answers to her questions, and feel confident that progress was being made, without getting directly involved with international legal jargon and complex bureaucracy.
The proceeds of sale of her grandfather’s accidental investment in Hong Kong ultimately enabled her to finish her long-postponed Masters Degree.
Mary Jones, a UK resident, died on 4th September 2014 at her home in Godalming, Surrey. Among her assets was a healthy bank balance of £20,585.67, which she left to her favourite nephew John and his wife Sarah. Unfortunately for John and Sarah Jones, this account was held in a NatWest Savings Account – in Jersey. Once UK Probate was obtained for all Mary’s UK assets, John and Sarah were keen to close the Jersey account and use the money to build an extension onto their house.
Famous for its beautiful beaches, Royal potatoes and rich Anglo-French history, Jersey is also known for strict anti-money laundering regulations, so the process of closing the account and was not as straightforward as they might have hoped. They were told that because the amount was over £10k they would need a Jersey Grant of Probate. “Surely” they questioned “a simple reseal of the English Grant will do the trick…?”
But no, you cannot reseal in Jersey like you can in Commonwealth countries like Australia or Canada. For assets over £10K, you have to apply for and obtain a Jersey Grant of Probate which is more technically known as Greffier’s Certificate of Jersey Grant of Probate. The Jersey Courts does not accept postal applications nor does it issue application forms. So effectively this meant that Mr and Mrs Jones might have had to find and engage a Jersey lawyer or try to deal the matter themselves by visiting the island and working their way through all the required paperwork and visiting the relevant government buildings.
Luckily for them, they were introduced to Louise Levene at Finders who was more than helpful and put the Jones at ease with her encyclopaedic knowledge of probate matters in Jersey. Her solution was simple, straightforward and cost effective. She told the Jones to send in all the documents relating to the UK Probate, appointed people in Jersey and made all the necessary arrangements for the account to be closed and the money given to John and Sarah. And all this was done for a small fee of £750 + VAT + Court disbursements. The matter was settled in a matter of weeks and the Joneses used the money from their aunt’s Jersey legacy to build the finest kitchen conservatory in Surrey!