Overseas Inheritance US/UK

I hope that I’ve posted this in the right place, if not, Mods please move or close down…

I’m seeking some advice on the behalf of my In-Laws who recently inherited a large sum of money – the In-Laws are based in the UK with the Inheritance being over in the US, California to be exact and whilst it’s not huge amount of money, it’s still quite significant and would certainly make their retirement that so much easier.

They’ve appointed the Deceased Lawyers, and to be honest they’re not being that useful, nor that pro-active. The ILs have been told that they need to set up a US Bank Account for the Inheritance to be transferred in to and they’re having difficulties in doing this, there’s also questions around tax liabilities etc – they’ve contacted HSBC and are in the process of speaking with Chase re accounts but again, getting nowhere with this – I must add, whilst not elderly in the old age sense, they haven’t got a huge amount of energy and they’re getting quite frustrated by the lack of progress from the US Lawyers and their lack of help and assistance, not helped by time differentails.

My wife has offered to help, however she’s not a named beneficiary and they’ve said that they’re unable to deal with her.

I’m not too sure what options are open to the ILs and was hoping for some advice – my wife previously contacted a UK Law Firm but that didn’t really go anywhere but I’m wondering whether to explore this option again – I guess I’m essentially after finding someone UK Based who can take over the ‘admin’ from the ILs and drive this forward?

Has anyone done similar and able to offer any advice?

Many thanks.

I haven’t been in this situation, but a close friend had to arrange the transfer of some millions of US dollars to him in the UK and what he did was get his UK bank to open him a US dollar account. I think it was based in the Isle of Man, but anyway it was the UK bank who arranged it all.

Even so his bank seemed to find it all very difficult and he also talked to a “challenger” bank in UK and they were willing to take it on if he wanted to move his banking to them.

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I’m in the US and don’t have any real experience but do have a daughter-in-law that is Canadian that may need to move inheritance from the US to Canada at some point. While I’m sure a probate lawyer is necessary for the legal aspects of the inheritance we started with our accountant regarding the financial implications. If you have or can find a good accountant in the UK familiar with these type of overseas transactions they may, for a hefty fee I’m sure, be able to work through the requirements and financial implications which can be significant. Taxes in the US are very confusing and many funds may require a fairly large payout depending on the fund type.

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Thanks @davidhendon I hadn’t thought of that, that could very well be the answer which has been starting us in the face. I’m not sure what you mean re a ‘challenger’ bank but I’ll have a look via Google.

@SRO Again, another good point - I’ll speak with my company CFO for some advice.

Grateuful for others input :slight_smile:

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If it’s any help, I used to work at a very good accountancy that specialised in, amongst others, Personal Tax (several domestic and overseas clients were on the books). They’re based in Canary Wharf and called PKF Littlejohn (was Littlejohn Frazer when I was there a number of years back). I still have contacts if it helps.

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As David said above , a UK bank can set up a multi currency account and then you use that for monies being transferred from aboard . I did this when I repatriated from the Netherlands back to the UK and had Euros in a Dutch bank account . My Netherlands bank were given the IBAN number of that account and the monies were transferred- then at the appropriate time those monies were converted to Sterling and the monies transferred to my normal account . It was pretty painless.

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By challenger bank, I mean one of the new banks challenging the cosy status quo of the big high street names. The one my friend talked to was Metro Bank, but I’m not recommending them or commenting as I know nothing about them.

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" When is inheritance tax due on an inheritance from abroad?

If you have received an inheritance from abroad, you should consider whether the correct amount of inheritance tax has been paid in the UK. Inheritance tax is payable by the estate if:

  • the person who died was ‘domiciled’ (permanently resident for tax purposes) in the UK; and/or
  • the person who died left you assets within the UK (such as a property or a UK-based bank account for example)."

The people currently holding the funds simply need to make the usual identity checks and transfer all monies held to the UK bank of the recipient in the normal way, paying whatever transfer fees are applicable from the estate. If inheritance tax is due in the USA (I don’t know the USA tax regime) then that inheritance tax is paid from the estate before releasing funds.


You may have to complete an Anti Money Laundering questionnaire from your receiving UK bank if the sum is significant.

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Moving any significant sum of money anywhere within UK or from overseas is subject to money laundering scrutiny nowadays. But that’s no big deal if the transfers are legal. The OP simply needs to get reliable advice from a UK-based lawyer in the first instance. Such expertise may not be generally available from all law firms but larger ones in major cities should have the right people to deal with a case of this type. If it were me I’d look at websites of lawyers in London, Manchester or Birmingham.

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Find out which financial institution in California is holding the funds, and then contact them and explain the situation. Ask their advice on making a wire transfer.
The Deceased lawyers law firm are possibly out of their comfort zone.


Fly to the US get a money order fly home with a copy of the will declare it as a inheritance deposit the cheque in your Uk account
Most countries don’t want you not to bring inheritance back to your home country.
You can save the flight by having the USA bank do the transfer of funds or better yet the executor of the estate in which case you need to notify your bank the funds are coming and show a copy of the will.
It’s not complicated and in most cases inheritance isn’t taxed but any funds generated by it will be.

I’m not a lawyer but have dealt with a few in the Uk and they can be very inefficient.
Remember it’s not a crime to receive a inheritance the banks just want to know where a large sum of money came from and the will is all you should need ( plus I D )

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Hi @Crashwilliams, I’m a dual citizen of the UK and US living in SE London (I lived in California between 2000 and 2009). This means I get the “pleasure” of doing a US federal tax return every year forevermore. US taxes can be very complex, and finding an expert in the UK is not easy - if you do manage it, they are likely to be very expensive. I don’t have experience with US inheritance tax, but you could try contacting a small company named MyExpatTaxes (they are based in mainland Europe). I use their software to do my US income tax. Plus the CEO (Nathalie Goldstein) is originally from California, so she would be a very good starting point.

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I’d advise you to telephone The Law Society at Chancery Lane, London WC2:

0207 242 1222

They will be able to refer you to a local firm of solicitors who have the relevant tax expertise.

Good luck in getting it all sorted!

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Let’s hope the lawyers don’t absorb all the money in fees

What a hilarious comment!

Jarndyce V Jarndyce in Bleak House is a very famous case where a vast fortune is absorbed by legal fees , until there is nothing left. The lawyers take everything

It is, of course, a novel, so it is describing a fiction.

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